The only thing Donald Trump seems to have for a defense is “immunity.” Contrary to Trump’s beliefs, Presidents who commit crimes are just as culpable as anyone else. Apparently, he also has no immunity in civil matters either. People should not be allowed to declare immunity when they willingly do something that hurts others. They could have just as easily walked away from the situation. Because they didn’t, they are guilty of the actions for which they have been accused, and immunity is off the table.
In 2021, seven U.S. Capitol Police officers sued Donald Trump, Stop the Steal organizers, and various right-wing groups over the January 6 insurrection. Democratic members of Congress also sued Trump in separate suits. Trump, of course, denied wrongdoing and moved to have the cases dismissed, which was denied. The appeal has been pending for some time, but the Court of Appeals finally ruled: these cases will proceed. The three-judge panel wrote: “When a first-term President opts to seek a second term, his campaign to win re-election is not an official presidential act.” You hear that, Trump? That means Jack Smith’s case for your election interference does not relate to your former presidency. It relates to the millions of votes you tried to have thrown out so that you could be declared president. This will also apply in the Georgia RICO case.
The three-judge panel comes from varying backgrounds and appointments. Chief Judge Sri Srinivasan was appointed by Obama, but his confirmation stalled because Obama supporters didn’t like that Srinivasan served under George Bush. That made him perfect for the appointment, as he obviously had no political biases. Judge Srinivasan wrote the deciding opinion, Judge Greg Katsas, a Trump appointee, concurred, and the final judge, Senior Judge Judith W. Rogers-who was appointed by Clinton-concurred in part. It will be difficult for Trump to complain about bias in this panel, though he will. Either way, the lawsuits filed by Capitol Police officers and the suits filed by members of Congress will proceed. According to CNN, as many as a dozen lawsuits may emerge from dormancy now that this ruling has been given. Interestingly, while the Court ruled that Trump was not acting within the scope of the presidency during his speech, they did find him immune for claims that he did not stop the riot.
No matter how you paint this picture, this ruling is bound to have some impact on Trump’s criminal cases. One portion of the ruling established the difference between campaign speech and presidential action. Trump is no longer president, and he will be judged like the rest of us. His outrageous speech on January 6 is like his attacks on prosecutors and court personnel-campaign speech is not presidential action. Kristy Parker, counsel for Protect Democracy said something very important to Trump’s criminal cases: “As this case shows, our constitutional order does not grant former President Donald J. Trump immunity for his attempt to subvert our democracy.” That will certainly come into play in both the Georgia and Washington, D.C. cases.
Shirley is a former entertainment writer and has worked in the legal field for over 25 years