Bad News Part II for Trump on Legal Front

After decision on claims of presidential immunity in civil case, judge in DC criminal case rules similarly
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 1, 2023 1:25 PM CST
Updated Dec 2, 2023 7:00 AM CST
Court: Jan. 6 Civil Suits Against Trump Are a Go
Former President Donald Trump is seen at a campaign rally on Oct. 23 in Derry, New Hampshire.   (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)
UPDATE Dec 2, 2023 7:00 AM CST

An appeals court on Friday rejected former President Donald Trump's request to dismiss a set of civil lawsuits against him due to what he claimed was presidential immunity on things he did and said after the 2020 election. Later that day, Judge Tanya Chutkan similarly rebuffed Trump's claims of immunity in the federal election subversion case in DC against him, reports the AP. "Former Presidents enjoy no special conditions on their federal criminal liability," Chutkan wrote in her decision, noting that being the commander in chief "does not confer a lifelong 'get-out-of-jail-free' pass." She added of Trump's former presidential status that it "did not bestow on him the divine right of kings to evade the criminal accountability that governs his fellow citizens," per CNN. The case will likely head to an appeals court next, ahead of the criminal trial set for March.

Dec 1, 2023 1:25 PM CST

It's all systems go for a series of civil complaints pending against former President Trump regarding the Capitol riot. In 2021, a pair of Capitol Police officers and a dozen or so Democratic lawmakers sued Trump, alleging he may have instigated the violence that roiled the Capitol on Jan. 6 of that year. Trump and his team argued that remarks and tweets he made that day at a rally and online—including false claims that the 2020 election was stolen, and urging his supporters to head to the Capitol to "fight like hell" in protest—fell "dead-center" within the realm of what was permissible for him to do, per the Washington Post. That realm included simultaneously trying to ensure the election laws were upheld according to the Constitution while still being able to speak "freely and frankly on matters of public concern" to the American people.

On Friday, a three-judge panel on the US Circuit Court of Appeals that included a Trump-appointed judge unanimously upheld a lower court's ruling—in which that judge said Trump's "words of incitement [were] not protected by the First Amendment"—and rebuffed Trump's request to dismiss the lawsuits, meaning they may now proceed, reports the AP. The judges noted, however, they were espousing "no view on the ultimate merits of the claims," meaning the final word on whether presidential immunity shields Trump from such complaints, including one filed by officers James Blassingame and Sidney Hemby, still hasn't been handed down. Trump could opt to have the case heard by the full appeals court, or he could take it all the way up to the Supreme Court.

story continues below

Forbes notes that the appeals court's decision could hurt how the presidential immunity defense protects Trump in the various criminal cases pending against him, including two cases in Georgia and special counsel Jack Smith's federal case against him in DC that accuses him of trying to overturn the 2020 election. "I hope our case will assist with helping put our democracy back on the right track, making it crystal clear that no person, regardless of title or position of stature, is above the rule of law," Blassingame said Friday in a statement after the most recent ruling, per the AP. Much more here. (More Donald Trump stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.