Dispute over immunity: Trump warns "chaos" because of charges brought against him

In view of the legal dispute over his immunity, former US President Donald Trump has warned of “chaos in the country” if the prosecutions against him continue. It would be “very unfair” for him to be prosecuted by the Justice Department as a political opponent of President Joe Biden, Trump complained on Tuesday after a hearing before a federal appeals court in Washington. Trump wants to run against Biden in the presidential election in November.

The court hearing focused on the question of how extensive Trump’s immunity from criminal prosecution is as a former president. However, the court has not yet made a decision. Specifically, the hearing related to an indictment brought against Trump by the federal judiciary for attempts to manipulate the election. The right-wing populist tried to overturn the result after his defeat against Biden in the November 2020 election.

Trump attended the appointment with three federal judges, although he was not obliged to do so. He did not speak in the courtroom, but shortly after the appointment: In front of reporters, Trump repeated his accusation that Biden had appointed the judiciary to prevent him from returning to the White House. It is an attempt by Biden and his Democrats to win the presidential election “this way”.

According to the polls, Trump has the best chance of being nominated by his Republican Party for the election on November 5th. The Republican primaries to choose their presidential candidate begin next Monday in the state of Iowa. At the same time, Trump is facing four criminal charges in the election year.

However, Trump’s lawyers argue that Trump enjoys “absolute immunity” and cannot be prosecuted for actions that fall within his term of office. At Tuesday’s hearing, Trump’s lawyer John Sauer argued that an ex-president can only be criminally prosecuted for official acts for which he had previously been impeached and convicted by Congress.

Such a so-called impeachment trial in the Senate against Trump ended in February 2021 – shortly after he left office – without a guilty verdict because the necessary two-thirds majority was missed.

Sauer also warned that Trump’s prosecution would open a “Pandora’s Box” of further prosecutions of former presidents “from which the country may never recover.” The Justice Department’s legal representative, James Pearce, emphasized that the president has “a prominent constitutional role, but he is not above the law.”

The three federal judges seemed unconvinced by the Trump lawyer’s arguments. Regarding Trump’s justification that he responded to alleged fraud at the polls after the 2020 election, Judge Karen Henderson said she found it “paradoxical” to say that Trump’s “constitutional duty to ensure the accurate implementation of the laws gave him the right to do so.” Violation of criminal laws permitted”. Trump still claims to this day that he was cheated out of his election victory – which is not supported by any facts and has been refuted many times.

Federal judge Tanya Chutkan had already rejected Trump’s immunity at the beginning of December. Trump’s lawyers filed an appeal against their decision, which is now being heard by the federal appeals court.

The trial against Trump in federal court over election manipulation allegations is currently scheduled to begin on March 4, right in the middle of the presidential primaries. However, the trial cannot take place without prior clarification of the immunity issue – which is why it is unclear whether the deadline can be met. The immunity dispute is expected to ultimately end up in the country’s highest court. Trump has also been indicted by the Georgia state judiciary for his attempts to overturn the 2020 election results.

Special counsel Jack Smith, appointed by the Justice Department in Washington, tried in vain to speed up the clarification of the question of Trump’s immunity. He had asked the Supreme Court to bypass the federal appeals court and let the high court hear the case directly. White wanted to ensure that the trial began as planned on March 4th.

However, the Supreme Court rejected this accelerated process through the courts. This suits Trump: He and his lawyers are playing for time and want to prevent the trial from taking place in the middle of the race for the White House.