Judge Chutkan Upholds Jack Smith’s Election Subversion Case Against Donald Trump

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Federal Judge Tanya Chutkan, in the criminal case against Donald Trump from Special Counsel Jack Smith on election-related charges, has denied attempts from the ex-president to use claims of far-reaching and apparently everlasting presidential immunity to get out of the prosecution he’s facing, which alleges multiple criminal actions.

So long as an action can be defined as within what the Trump team called the “outer perimeter” of presidential responsibilities, they argued he was free from the possibility of criminal consequence unless there’d been an impeachment followed by conviction (in the Senate) stemming from such actions. Chutkan said, quite simply, no.

“The Constitution’s text, structure, and history do not support that contention,” she summarized, discussing Trump’s arguments. “No court—or any other branch of government—has ever accepted it. And this court will not so hold. Whatever immunities a sitting President may enjoy, the United States has only one Chief Executive at a time, and that position does not confer a lifelong “get-out-of-jail-free” pass. Former Presidents enjoy no special conditions on their federal criminal liability. Defendant may be subject to federal investigation, indictment, prosecution, conviction, and punishment for any criminal acts undertaken while in office.”

Trump also lost this week, at least tentatively, before a federal appeals court dealing with questions stemming from civil litigation against the former president alleging he bears responsibility for the Capitol riot in early 2021. A three-judge panel rejected the idea of some far-reaching presidential immunity barring the proceedings at this stage, with a participating judge writing that campaigning for president was not considered an official action. It’s something Trump was doing as a private citizen, and the legal precedent wasn’t there for him to use the ostensible backing of government to shield his actions outside government.

Chutkan herself also previously denied a request from Trump to strike language related to the chaos of January 6 from the underlying indictment in this case, rejecting the ex-president’s arguments that jury bias would potentially be facilitated. Read Chutkan’s new ruling in full at this link.