Amidst criminal charges, Trump’s attempt to stop civil claims related to the US Capital Riot fails

In an attempt to delay a barrage of lawsuits alleging he instigated the assault on the US Capitol, Donald Trump failed on Thursday. The former president is now defending himself in Washington against a felony charge of meddling in the 2020 election.

Defense attorneys asked US District Judge Amit Mehta in Washington to put on hold the civil proceedings aimed at holding Trump accountable for the violence on January 6, 2021, while the criminal case accusing him of plotting to unseat President Joe Biden in the election was pending. Mehta declined their request.

This is the most recent legal setback for the presumed Republican presidential candidate. This week marked the start of jury selection in New York for his trial in a different criminal case involving payments of hush money made during the 2016 campaign.

Democratic legislators and law enforcement officials who guarded the Capitol on January 6 filed complaints, claiming they were injured in the assault and that Congress should not have certified Biden’s win. The claims seek civil damages.

Trump has argued that his remarks at a rally before the Capitol storming addressed “matters of public concern” and came within the purview of absolute presidential immunity, meaning he cannot be sued over the violence that resulted in the injuries of several police officers.

In December, a federal appeals court in Washington decided that the cases may proceed, dismissing Trump’s broad assertions that his immunity from prosecution protects him from accountability. However, the court said that Trump is free to fight to demonstrate that his acts were carried out in his official role as president as long as the lawsuits are pending.

Trump’s attorneys informed the judge in court documents submitted last month that the civil proceedings should be put on hold until the criminal case pertaining to the 2020 election is settled in order to provide “basic fairness to criminal defendants.” They said that if the cases are allowed to continue, Trump could be compelled to “prematurely telegraph” his criminal defense plans.

Mehta, who was nominated to the bench by former President Barack Obama, said that in addition to the criminal case, the public also has an interest in the civil actions being resolved quickly. Furthermore, the court said that “appropriate safeguards” may be implemented to let the cases to proceed without violating Trump’s Fifth Amendment protection against being forced to testify against himself.

Next week, the Supreme Court will hear arguments over Trump’s assertion that he is not subject to criminal prosecution in relation to the election meddling case filed by Special Counsel Jack Smith. Whether Trump will go on trial in the lawsuit alleging a massive plot to keep him in office after the American people voted him out of office will depend on the outcome of the judgment.

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