Storming of the Capitol 2021 Is Trump immune? A court will now decide on this – the most important questions

Should former US President Donald Trump be punished because he wanted to overturn the 2020 election results? The appeals court in Washington now wants to clarify this question – and Trump wants to be there. Questions and answers at a glance.

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An appeals court in the US capital Washington is dealing with the question of the immunity of former US President Donald Trump. According to his own statements, the 77-year-old wants to appear in person at the hearing this Tuesday (3:30 p.m. CET) and is likely to use the date for an election campaign appearance. It should be clarified whether the Republican can be prosecuted at the federal level for his attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election – or whether he is protected by immunity as an ex-president.

Trump is indicted in Washington in connection with attempted election fraud. Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in Washington on January 6, 2021. Congress met there to formally confirm Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election. Trump had previously incited his supporters during a speech and still does not accept his defeat. As a result of the riots, five people died.

Why does the Court of Appeal decide and not the Supreme Court?

Trump’s lawyers had requested that the charges against their client be dropped. They believe that Trump cannot be legally prosecuted for actions that they consider to be part of his duties as president. The judge responsible for the proceedings had rejected the application.

Trump’s team again appealed this decision, which is why it is now up to an appeals court. Special prosecutor Jack Smith, who is leading the investigation, had tried to bypass the appeals court. He turned directly to the country’s Supreme Court and asked it to quickly clarify the issue. However, the Supreme Court rejected this request – a success for Trump. Therefore, the appeal must now make its way through the courts, which can take a long time.

Does the Supreme Court also have something to say?

It is expected that the case will end up back at the Supreme Court following the appeals court’s decision. The previously planned start of the trial at the beginning of March is therefore unlikely, as we have to wait for the highest court decision.

It would be the first time that the US Supreme Court has addressed the question of whether ex-presidents enjoy immunity from federal prosecution. This is also because never before in the history of the United States has a former US president been charged with criminal offenses.

How do Trump and his lawyers react?

On the online platform Truth Social, which he co-founded, Trump once again made his view of things clear the day before: Of course, as President of the USA and Commander in Chief, he was entitled to immunity. As president, he only defended his country, he wrote. According to his argument, his behavior at the time was not an election campaign.

In the state of Georgia, charges of attempted election interference were also brought against Trump and 18 other defendants. On Monday, Trump’s lawyers here also asked that the proceedings be dismissed, citing the then-president’s immunity. Making statements to the public on matters of national interest such as elections is at the core of the president’s historic role and responsibility, the motion said. A trial is scheduled to begin in August.

Why does Trump want to be on the appeals court?

This is probably mainly due to his election campaign. Because Trump, who is facing a total of four criminal charges, wants to move into the White House again for the Republicans. The primary elections for the candidacy are imminent. Trump leads by far in internal party polls. So far everything points to a new edition of the election campaign between him and incumbent Joe Biden.

Trump has already used the dates during his various procedures in the past for major appearances. He repeatedly portrays himself as a victim of justice – a rhetoric that certainly resonates with Republicans. Trump is also relying on tactical reasons to delay the trials against him – possibly even until after the presidential election in November this year. If he wins the election, he could ask his justice minister to end the federal investigation against him.