According to a report by Law and Crime on Thursday, December 7, 2023, former President Donald Trump has requested an immediate halt to the criminal trial against him related to the January 6th attack on the US Capitol, according to court filings on Thursday
Trump’s legal team argued that all proceedings should be stayed while they appeal Judge Tanya Chutkan’s recent ruling that rejected his claims of presidential immunity.
Chutkan issued a 112-page opinion last week dismissing Trump’s motion to dismiss the case on grounds of presidential immunity and First Amendment protections.
She stated that presidents do not have “divine right of kings” and are not immune from criminal prosecution for actions taken outside their official duties.
Trump’s lawyers contend her conclusions were “incorrect” and plan to challenge them before the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Department of Justice has not yet responded to Trump’s latest request. Legal experts say the appeal is unlikely to succeed but could significantly delay the high-profile trial.
“Trump is trying to run out the clock,” said Barbara McQuade, University of Michigan law professor and former federal prosecutor. “An appeal could take many months to resolve, pushing any trial to 2024 or beyond.”
The case centers around Trump’s relentless efforts to overturn the 2020 election results through obstruction of Congress’s certification process on January 6th.
Prosecutors allege he conspired with lawyer John Eastman and others to submit false slates of electors, spread claims of election fraud, and pressure state officials to reverse Joe Biden’s victory.
The historic indictment accuses Trump of conspiracy to defraud the United States, obstruction of an official proceeding, and making false statements. If convicted, he could face years in prison and be disqualified from holding future office.
Trump’s lawyers also appealed Chutkan’s rejection of his First Amendment defense. They argued his speech at the January 6th “Save America” rally was constitutionally protected and did not directly incite imminent violence.
But Chutkan found that Trump’s repeated lies about a “stolen” election were not protected speech when used in furtherance of an illegal scheme.
She also determined there was ample evidence he knew the certification process was ongoing when he told supporters to “fight like hell” outside the Capitol.
Legal experts say Trump faces long odds convincing appellate judges that presidents enjoy sweeping immunity for unofficial acts or that the First Amendment shields efforts to obstruct election certification. Out of nearly 30 post-presidency lawsuits against Trump, no court has accepted his immunity claims thus far.
“He essentially wants a get-out-of-jail free card that does not exist,” said former federal prosecutor Randall Eliason. “I expect the courts will make relatively quick work of these arguments.”
While Trump pursues appeals, the January 6th House committee is set to dissolve at year’s end. But prosecutors will continue building their case ahead of the March 2023 trial date. An appeals court ruling is expected within several months unless the Supreme Court intervenes.
Trump’s lawyers have indicated they will go all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary. But with its conservative majority, his best hope for vindication may lie with an expected 2024 presidential run.
“Trump seems to be banking on winning reelection to make this all go away,” Eliason said. “But the courts are showing they will not allow him to indefinitely delay accountability.”