“For the purposes of this criminal case, President Trump has become the citizen trump“. The court of three judges of the Washington Circuit of Appeals has summed up in that phrase that Donald Trump is not immune for his attempts to remain in power and subvert the results of the 2020 electionwho lost to Joe Biden.
The opinion of the three judges, reached unanimously, threatens to restart the process launched in August by special prosecutor Jack Smith, who is pursuing the former president’s alleged federal crimes. The prosecutor accuses Trump of four crimes on the basis that the president “spread lies” and made statements “that he knew were false.” The appeals court flatly rejects the argument of the former president’s defense that he is totally and absolutely immune to the law in all acts carried out in the exercise of office, and that this privilege does not expire when he leaves power. , which is equivalent to saying that the American president is an absolute sovereign who is not subject to any earthly law.
For this reason, the text states that “we cannot accept the statement that a president has unlimited authority to commit crimes that could neutralize the most fundamental control of Executive power: the recognition and application of the results of the elections.” The ruling also emphasizes that Trump’s arguments “will ultimately lead to the collapse of our system of separation of powers by placing the president beyond the reach of the three branches of the State.” The corollary is that “we cannot accept that the Office of the Presidency puts its former occupants above the Law forever and ever“, since that would mean that, “the Legislative Branch would not legislate, the Executive would not be able to be supervised, and the Judiciary would not be able to supervise.”
It is significant that the sentence was signed unanimouslysince one of the members of the court, Karen Henderson, was appointed by the Republican president George W. W. Bush and has a well-proven conservative record. The other two judges – Florence Pan and Michelle Childs – have been for Jode Biden.
The ruling explains that Trump can be charged and tried for alleged crimes he committed while in office. “Any executive immunity that could have protected him when he was serving as president does not protect him against this indictment,” states the 55-page ruling, which has just been made public in Washington. Trump’s defense insists that the president is not responsible under the law, to the point that he could order the Armed Forces to murder American citizens.
The resolution is legally very relevant because it has never been raised before in the history of the United States. “The ruling establishes that the privileges – in this case, immunity – belong to the position, not to the person. The moment he stops being president, a person loses it,” explains Spanish-American lawyer Manuel Varela.
Now, Trump’s legal team has until Monday to file an appeal. Your options, according to legal sources, are two: present the appeal before all the judges that are part of the Washington Circuit – what is called appeal en banc, although it seems unlikely, given that experts doubt that they would change the sentence – or before the Supreme Court, where judges appointed by Republican presidents have a majority of six to three, including three justices appointed by Trump himself and one, Clarence Thomas, whose wife, Ginni, collaborated with the then-president in his attempts to steal the election. Thomas has not recused himself from the case.
In theory, the Supreme Court no longer accepts cases for the current session, which ends in July. That would leave the sentence for the 2023-2024 judicial year, which is what Trump wants. But the gravity of the matter is such that Chief Justice John Roberts is likely to force his colleagues to rule in the current legal course.
All this gives a tremendous doubt about the legal future of the former president and pre-candidate for the November 5 elections. It is possible that this judicial instance, the highest of USA, decides not to give urgency to the appeal. If this were the case, the trial against Trump – initially scheduled for March 4 and then postponed precisely due to the slowness of the appeals court – would be postponed again.
Trump’s strategy, which is the same in the almost 4,000 trials in which he has been involved – as accuser or as accused – in his life. The Supreme Court already has another appeal against Trump due to the decision of the states of Colorado and Maine to prohibit him from running for office, precisely because of the insurrection that he led after losing the elections in 2020.
The ruling of the Washington Court of Appeals even presents a politically acceptable solution for the Supreme Court, which could “reject the decision of Colorado and Maine, but in exchange accept it, which allows Trump to be put on trial,” says Varela. According to jurists contacted during this period, “it is very well reasoned.” Some of her text is devastating for the former president’s team. Thus, she states that “former President Trump’s alleged efforts to remain in power despite losing the 2020 election were, if proven, an unprecedented assault on the structure of the State“. The ruling maintains that Trump “allegedly interfered in a process in which the president has no role – the counting and ratification of the votes – therefore undermining the established procedures and the will of the Legislature.”