#By Jan Wolfe-Explainer: Trump’s acts as president are ‘fair game’ for criminal charges

(Reuters) – Donald Trump’s legal woes are far from over despite his acquittal in the US Senate impeachment trial that ended on Saturday.

US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell pointed this out just moments after the vote to acquit Trump, saying that the courts are the appropriate forum to hold the former president accountable for his role in the January 6 deadly attack on the US Capitol by Trump supporters. “President Trump remains responsible for everything he did while in office as a private citizen,” McConnell said in the Senate floor. “He hasn’t escaped anything. Yet.” Below is an explanation of how Trump leaving office affected his criminal and civil exposure.

Can Trump be prosecuted for actions he took part in as president? Yeah. Brian Calte, professor of constitutional law at Michigan State University, said that now that Trump has left office, any misconduct he has made as president is a “fair game” to bring criminal charges. Trump enjoyed more protection from prosecution during his presidency because the US Department of Justice has concluded that it would be unconstitutional to indict an incumbent president but there is no federal prohibition on indicting a former president for acts committed while in office.

β€œThe immunity argument revolves around the timing of the trial, and it is generally accepted that former presidents can be tried for crimes they committed in their office,” Calt said. Do Trump’s official actions enjoy special protection from prosecution? No. In some contexts, US courts have distinguished between the president’s “official acts” and actions unrelated to the president’s job. For example, in the 1982 case, the US Supreme Court ruled that in civil lawsuits, presidents enjoy immunity from liability arising from their official actions. If Trump violated the criminal laws, the fact that he took those measures during the presidency would not protect him from liability, said Randall Eliasson, a professor of law at George Washington University and a former federal prosecutor.

 

In practice, he said, prosecutors would take care not to criminalize “political disputes or the exercise of discretion.”

Eliasson said it would be appropriate for prosecutors to investigate Trump’s role in the January 6 riots, as well as his attempts to undermine Democratic President Joe Biden’s election victory.

What criminal investigations has Trump faced so far? For more than two years, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has been investigating Trump’s real estate business for potential insurance and tax fraud. There is a separate civil investigation by the New York State Attorney, Letitia James, into whether the company has incorrectly reported property values.

The Trump Organization denied in court files that the company falsified real estate values, and rejected other allegations made by Vance and James, both of whom are Democrats.

Republican Trump said the investigations were politically motivated.

Prosecutors in Georgia’s largest county recently opened a criminal investigation into Trump’s attempts to influence the results of the 2020 state elections, and ordered government officials to withhold documents in the second known criminal investigation into Trump.

The investigation by Fulton County Attorney Fanny Willis, a Democrat, is the most serious investigation facing Trump in Georgia after it was recorded in a January 2 phone call pressuring a senior state official to overturn state election results based on unfounded allegations of voter fraud. .

In a statement, Jason Miller, a senior Trump adviser, accused Democrats of trying to “score political points by continuing to hunt witches against President Trump.”

 

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