According to a report by Daily Beast on Friday, November 17, 2023, former President Donald Trump suffered a legal setback on Friday when a federal judge in Washington, D.C., denied his motion to dismiss the criminal charges against him related to his attempt to overturn the 2020 election.
The judge, Tanya Chutkan, also took a jab at Trump for his repeated attacks on the prosecutors, witnesses and court staff involved in his case, saying they were “inflammatory” and “prejudicial”.
Trump, who is facing four felony counts of obstruction of justice, conspiracy and incitement of insurrection, had argued that the indictment was politically motivated and violated his constitutional rights.
He also claimed that the special counsel appointed to investigate his conduct, Jack Smith, had a conflict of interest and lacked legal authority.
Chutkan, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama in 2014, rejected Trump’s arguments in a 36-page opinion, saying they were “meritless” and “unsupported by law or fact”.
She said that Smith had been properly appointed by the attorney general and had the power to prosecute Trump for his actions before, during and after the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.
She also said that Trump had failed to show any evidence of selective or vindictive prosecution, noting that he was the only person who had the “unique ability and authority” to influence the mob that stormed the Capitol in an effort to stop the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory.
“The indictment alleges that the defendant, as the sitting President of the United States, engaged in a scheme to subvert and obstruct the will of the American people, as expressed in the 2020 presidential election, and to impede and interfere with the peaceful transition of power, in violation of the Constitution and the laws of the United States,” Chutkan wrote.
“Such allegations, if proven, unquestionably constitute an offense against the United States, and the Court finds no basis to dismiss the indictment on the grounds that it charges the defendant with non-existent crimes.”
Chutkan also issued a gag order on Trump, barring him from making any public statements that could prejudice the jury or harm the fair administration of justice.
She said that Trump’s “presidential candidacy does not give him carte blanche to vilify” the prosecutors, witnesses and court staff, and warned him of “sanctions” if he violated the order.
She cited Trump’s recent posts on his social media platform, Truth Social, where he called Smith “deranged” and his lawyers “thugs”.
She also mentioned Trump’s attacks on some of the potential witnesses in the case, such as former Attorney General Bill Barr and former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley, whom he accused of treason.
“Such statements are not only inflammatory, but they also pose a serious risk of undermining public confidence in the judiciary and the criminal justice system,” Chutkan wrote.
“The Court has a duty to ensure that the defendant receives a fair and impartial trial, and that the jury is not influenced by extraneous factors or information.”
Trump, who did not attend the hearing on Friday, has not yet commented on the judge’s ruling.
He is scheduled to stand trial on March 4, 2024, just nine months before the presidential election.
He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and has vowed to fight them all the way to the Supreme Court.
He has also maintained that the 2020 election was rigged and stolen from him, despite dozens of courts and election officials rejecting his claims.
The case against Trump is the first of its kind in U.S. history, as no former president has ever been criminally charged for his actions while in office.
It is also one of several legal challenges that Trump is facing, including civil lawsuits, state investigations and congressional inquiries. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison.