Does Donald Trump, as a former president, have legal immunity?
This is one of the questions that Judge Amit Mehta of the Washington, D.C. District Court will decide, through his hearing that began Monday.
The background is a civil lawsuit against the former president and several elected representatives. The allegations relate to their roles in the storming of the Capitol on January 6, 2021.
trump He was acquitted in the Supreme Court case against him, Where he was charged with inciting an attack on Congress. This time, the outcome may be different, but it assumes that the judge believes that the former president Not They have such immunity, explains Civita consultant and American expert, Eirik Løkke.
“This is the first major test of whether the civil lawsuit, which is outside the political process, is a way to hold Trump accountable for the attack on Congress,” he explains.
– He does not stand above the law
As a general rule, the president is immune from civil matters, as long as that person holds the office.
The attack took place while Trump was still president, but it’s not that the president is above the law or has immunity in all matters, Locke says.
If the judge concludes that Trump has immunity, it will be less interesting if he actually committed illegal acts, he believes.
This hearing is simply the basis for the kind of legal responsibility Trump might have.
– Be calm
During today’s hearing, the judge repeatedly asked one question:
Why didn’t he say anything?
When the crowds entered the conference building, the then-president sat completely in the boat.
“It was a window of about two hours and the president didn’t say ‘stop, get off the congress, that’s not what I want you to do,'” Judge Mehta said. CNN.
– What do I do with the fact that the president did not immediately condemn this behavior (…) and sent a tweet that one could argue that things got worse? Doesn’t that mean, she wondered, that the president may have approved of the protesters’ behavior inside Capitol Hill that day.
Trump’s attorney, Jesse Benall, told the channel that he believed everything Trump had ever done when he was president was covered by the immunity he had.
It is also believed that Trump called on the demonstrators to act “peacefully and patriotically.”
“So you think I should completely ignore what he said,” the judge asked.
The short answer to Benal was “yes,” because he believes the role of president gives immunity when it comes to all statements, he writes. NBC.
– very safe
Civita’s counsel says he would be surprised if a judge thought Trump had no legal responsibility for the charges against him.
Locke stressed that this does not necessarily mean that Trump is guilty, but that it would mean in principle that the president can also be held responsible for his actions in trial – if the evidence is strong enough.
– It must be said that political responsibility has taken the form of national law, but it is to a large extent a political issue and an instrument that lies outside the civil law process.
– I am fully confident that the judge in this case will make a legal decision that is not confused by a political point of view.
The January 6 committee, made up of members of the House of Representatives, is currently reviewing documents and questioning witnesses.
The hearings have mostly been held behind closed doors so far, but Løkke thinks it’s unlikely they will eventually be able to open television broadcasts.
The report may end up in the drawer
Locke notes that commission times are bad. For now, Democrats have a majority in the House of Representatives, but that could change in this fall’s by-election.
– If they can’t finish before the election, the whole report may end up in the drawer. Republicans have tried to oppose it, and will continue to do so, because they believe it is a distinct political process.
At the same time, he acknowledges that the commission’s future conclusions are unlikely to influence voters in one direction or another.
– Today, the United States is so highly politicized that it almost does not matter what the commission comes to. They can have as much evidence as they want, but people will continue to interpret it for their own agenda. it is a pity.
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