Closing out a recent and expansive ruling, federal Judge Tanya Chutkan told former President Donald Trump that his federal indictment on allegations of multiple election-related conspiracies didn’t violate principles ensuring due process for defendants.
The idea was, in general terms, that Trump had been insufficiently on notice that what he was doing — which he characterized as in line with others’ actions throughout history — could lead to criminal charges. Chutkan concluded in turn that mere ignorance, if proven, wasn’t enough to block a prosecution and that the actual force of history, throughout which there have been multiple prosecutions for government officials taking election-threatening action, actually set up the clear prospect of charges for Trump. The nature of Chutkan’s decisions at this stage is to consider the conduct as alleged rather than making any final decisions on whether prosecutors’ case proves itself beyond a reasonable doubt.
“And due process does not entitle Defendant to advance warning that his precise conduct is unlawful, so long as the law plainly forbids it,” the judge said, eventually adding that there “is also a long history of prosecutions for interfering with the outcome of elections; that history provided Defendant with notice that his conduct could be prosecuted. […] Indeed, the Supreme Court has addressed more than one case in which officials were prosecuted for interfering with or discarding election ballots.”
Even if there was a lack of history mirroring Trump’s current prosecution, that wouldn’t be enough to throw it out, Chutkan said, explaining: “Under that theory, novel criminal acts would never be prosecuted. The Constitution does not so constrain the Executive Branch.” And as for her earlier points, she cited a prior case including the line “ignorance of the law is no defense” — tough news for someone who leans so intensely on falling so desperately short of the basic reality looming before him. Despite years of refutation, Trump still claims systematic election fraud in the 2020 presidential race!