Judge Warns of Justice Department’s Gift to Trump That Could Keep on Giving

A judge has warned that former President Donald Trump is building a legal shield that could prevent him from being held accountable for inciting the January 6, 2021 uprising, pointing to the strange move. of the Justice Department to side with Trump in a rape defamation case last year.

The DOJ’s legal stance – that whatever the president does is part of his official duties, and thus makes him a federal employee immune to lawsuits – is was widely criticized at the time. But it resurfaced on Tuesday, when a federal appeals judge found it necessary to issue an explicit warning alluding to holding Trump accountable.

“By this logic, as long as a president looks like he is performing behavior of the kind he is expected to do — like speaking to a reporter or attending a government meeting — he are acting within the scope of their work. But if that were the case, the mere presence of others would nullify anything a president did or said, since no president can be held liable for damage done in front of the microphone. or in an official meeting — whether to defame a citizen, disclosing top secret information about national securityor incite riots,” Written Judge Denny Chin in New York City.

“This is not, and should not be, the law,” he added.

The closing lines make it clear about the former president, who is being investigated for a crime Because mishandling top secret government and private documents face civil lawsuits for telling his loyal MAGA followers—the person he knew was armed with a rifle—To march on the Capitol building.

“I think it’s a legitimate concern. What the judge gets is the very real possibility of unintended consequences,” says Vermont Law School professor Jared Carter.

Chin is the only dissenting voice on a three-judge panel at the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City, which has long considered the legal dispute between Trump and Trump. Elle E. Jean Carroll magazine consulting column. Two other appellate justices gave Trump a temporary victory by overturning the district court’s ruling and took an important step toward extending Trump’s legal immunity normally reserved for low-level employees. of the federal.

The question is whether Trump is personally responsible for what he did in self-defense after Carroll accused him of raping her. In June 2019, New York publishing magazine an excerpt from the book of Carrollwhere she accused Trump of raping her inside a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room circa 1995. Trump refused to meet Carroll and then said The Hill: “Number one, she is not my type. Second, it never happened. “Carroll” to sue him for libel.

The case in 2019 has proceed in slow motionfirst because Trump is still in office, then because of Trump used his coup lawyer at the Department of Justice to defend him in court — asking the taxpayer to file a bill.

E. Jean Carroll speaks on stage during the How to Write Your Own Life panel at Glamor Women of the Year 2019 Summit at Alice Tully Hall on November 10, 2019, in New York City.

Ilya S. Savenok / Getty for Glamor

The public expects that to change as Trump loses the election and the Biden administration change leadership DOJ. But the Ministry of Justice made a shocking decision last year to continue to defend Trump, arguing that he can continue to rely on the executive power he once had.

These arguments convinced a majority of two judges on the Second Circuit appeals court, who wrote that Trump could get federal worker protections under the Westfall Act of 1988 because he was like Joe. your normal.

“As Trump pointed out in his summary, the president is a government employee in the most basic sense of the term: He serves his employer, the government of the United States, in exchange for a salary and other work-related interests,” wrote Judges Guido Calabresi and William J. Nardini.

Attorney Trump Alina Habba issued a statement later, saying, “This decision will preserve the ability of all future presidents to run effectively without impediment.”

But the appellate decision now raises a second question for the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, asking them to determine if his claims about Carroll were “within the scope of his work as attorney general.” President of the United States or not.”

The Justice Department filed a case with its stance that Trump’s actions were consistent with his job – despite the fact that he was referring to a personal matter related to a sexual assault. potential occurred decades before he ran for president. It gives Trump another defensive strategy to use against various civil lawsuits that seek to force him to pay for sending rioters to attack the Capitol, where they hurt officers. police and destroy parts of historic buildings.

“This is a victory for Trump, without a doubt. Will he use it in civil and criminal matters? One hundred percent,” said John Pavia, who teaches a law class at Quinnipiac University, which focuses on questionable behavior by senior government officials.

That’s apples and oranges… whatever he was doing in Carroll was fundamentally different from what he was doing on January 6th before the attack on the Capitol.

Phil Andonian, attorney on the legal team of Representative Eric Swalwell

However, Pavia doubts that the defense will actually work for the cases that occurred on January 6. He said the three civil cases against Trump for inciting riots are sufficiently different from the case. Carroll that the Second Circuit ruling should not hold water.

“I don’t think it’s going to have the power of a landmark decision that will somehow affect or have an effect on everything else that’s going on,” he told The Daily Beast.

But if the DC appeals court goes Trump’s way, his attorneys are more likely to use the case to raise the bar. defense invoked by another protest speaker who stirred up the crowd and caused a frenzy that day, Representative Mo Brooks (R-AL). Brooks has managed to get away with three lawsuits aimed at punishing those who have pushed fundamentalists off-limits, and Trump is likely to try the same with this new decision, legal scholars say. said.

In March, U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta of Washington dismissed Brooks as a defendant in a rebellion lawsuit filed by Representative Eric Swalwell (D-CA). Phil Andonian, one of the attorneys on Swalwell’s legal team, acknowledged Chin’s concerns but said it was too early to say that the DOJ’s decision to protect the sanctity of the Trump presidency was “promoting” push the lawsuits January 6”.

“It was apples and oranges… whatever he was doing in Carroll was fundamentally different from what he was doing on January 6 before the attack on the Capitol,” Andonian told The Daily Beast. “What we are alleging in our case is fundamentally different from [Trump] say something in response to a formal interview. Our central point is what Trump has done is open up a mob in Congress… and launch an attack on an egalitarian branch of government that is certainly not within the scope of the president’s powers. “

Carter, professor at Vermont, warned that the appellate decision Trump’s team is celebrating may not be the gift it sounds like. He noted that the official decision to show Trump as an employee also has many references that his actions actually do not qualify as part of his job. For example, judge Calabresi’s agreement called it a “rare” case of “employee misconduct”.

“They provide a route that the DC circuit can use to determine this is beyond…his scope of work,” Carter told The Daily Beast.

However, this legal battle doesn’t necessarily destroy Carroll’s case against Trump. Last week, her lawyer revealed in a court letter that they are preparing to launch a new lawsuit under New York’s new victims of sexual assault law — a law that targets Trump the same way victims did after Catholic priests were accused of sexually abusing children.

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