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Trump is ‘not above the law,’ prosecutors say in urging judge to let federal election case proceed

by Lucas Garcia
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Contempt of Court

In their recent submission to the court, federal prosecutors asserted that Donald Trump is not exempt from legal accountability, emphasizing that he is “not above the law.” They strongly urged U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan to reject Trump’s attempts to have the federal election subversion case against him dismissed. Trump’s legal team had argued that he should be immune from prosecution for actions taken while serving as president.

Special counsel Jack Smith’s legal team countered with their own filing, contending that neither the Constitution nor legal precedent supports the notion that a former president, including Trump, cannot be prosecuted for criminal actions committed during their presidency. They emphasized, “The defendant is not above the law. He is subject to the federal criminal laws like more than 330 million other Americans, including Members of Congress, federal judges, and everyday citizens,” in their written response.

The decision now rests with Judge Chutkan, who is being called upon to navigate the uncharted legal territory of a former president’s claim of immunity from criminal prosecution. However, her decision may not be the final word on the matter. If Trump’s defense is unsuccessful in convincing Chutkan, they have the option to pursue their arguments before a federal appeals court and potentially, the Supreme Court, where there is currently a clear conservative majority.

In August, Trump was charged with a four-count indictment in federal court in Washington, alleging that he conspired to overturn the 2020 presidential election, which he lost to Democrat Joe Biden. This effort culminated in the events of January 6, 2021, when pro-Trump rioters breached the U.S. Capitol in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent the peaceful transfer of power.

It’s worth noting that while the Supreme Court has previously ruled that presidents are immune from civil liability for actions related to their official duties, it has not addressed the question of whether this immunity extends to criminal prosecution. Trump’s legal team argues that he should be shielded from prosecution, citing the nature of the actions he is accused of as falling within the purview of the presidency.

However, prosecutors strongly rebuffed this argument, contending that Trump’s efforts to retain power, including the dissemination of false claims of voter fraud to obstruct the formal electoral vote count, clearly exceeded the responsibilities of the Oval Office. They also pointed out that Trump’s claims of immunity are in direct conflict with the U.S. Constitution, which permits the criminal prosecution of a president for “acts committed during — and ultimately resulting in the president’s removal from — the presidency.”

Prosecutors also highlighted that while there may be dissenting opinions regarding Justice Department legal interpretations on whether sitting presidents can be federally indicted, there is a consensus that former presidents can indeed face federal criminal prosecution. They framed this principle as being grounded in the Constitution and historical practice.

The trial for this case is currently scheduled for March 4, 2024. In a recent development, Judge Chutkan imposed a limited gag order on Trump in response to a request from Smith’s legal team. This order prohibits him from making inflammatory comments directed at prosecutors and potential witnesses. Additionally, Trump faces three other criminal prosecutions, including charges related to the illegal possession of classified documents, election interference in Georgia, and allegations of falsifying business records in New York in relation to hush money payments to a porn actor.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Keyword: Trump’s Prosecution

What charges does Donald Trump face in this case?

Donald Trump faces charges related to scheming to overturn the 2020 presidential election, which he lost to Joe Biden. These charges include allegations of election subversion.

Why did Trump’s lawyers argue that he should be immune from prosecution?

Trump’s legal team argued that he should be immune from prosecution because they believed he was protected from criminal charges for actions taken while he was serving as President of the United States.

What is the prosecution’s counterargument against Trump’s claim of immunity?

Prosecutors countered Trump’s claim of immunity by asserting that there is no constitutional or legal basis to shield a former president from criminal prosecution for actions committed during their presidency. They emphasized that Trump is subject to federal criminal laws like any other American.

Has the Supreme Court addressed the issue of a former president’s immunity from criminal prosecution?

No, the Supreme Court has not addressed the question of whether a former president is immune from criminal prosecution. While it has ruled on civil liability for actions related to official duties, it has not specifically ruled on criminal immunity for former presidents.

What potential outcomes are mentioned for this legal battle?

The decision ultimately rests with U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan. If Trump’s defense is unsuccessful in convincing her, they have the option to appeal to a federal appeals court and, potentially, the Supreme Court, where there is currently a conservative majority.

Are there other legal cases against Donald Trump?

Yes, Donald Trump faces three other criminal prosecutions, including charges related to the illegal possession of classified documents, election interference in Georgia, and allegations of falsifying business records in New York in relation to hush money payments to a porn actor.

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