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The fallout from Trump’s attempt to overturn election losses is heading to the Supreme Court

By John Kruzel

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The actions of Donald Trump and his supporters, following his 2020 election loss, will be at the top of the U.S. Supreme Court’s agenda for the next two weeks in cases involving his attempt to avoid prosecution over his attempt to overturn his defeat, and an attempt by a man charged in the attack on the Capitol to escape a charge leveled by Trump. faces too.

The two cases gain even greater prominence as Trump campaigns to return to the White House as the Republican candidate challenging the Democratic candidate President Joe Biden in the November 5 US elections.

The justices will hear arguments Tuesday in an appeal by Joseph Fischer, who was indicted on seven charges following the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot, including corruptly obstructing an official proceeding — congressional certification of Biden’s victory over Trump. They will next hear arguments on April 25 on Trump’s claim of presidential immunity from prosecution.

“The court has not yet directly addressed issues related to January 6,” said Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. “But Fischer and Trump are so clearly raising issues arising from January 6.”

Trump has taken numerous steps to reverse his 2020 loss. His false claims of widespread voter fraud helped fuel the attack on the Capitol as Congress met to certify Biden’s victory. Trump and his allies also devised a plan to use fake electors from key states to thwart certification.

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Federal prosecutors have filed obstruction charges against about 350 of the roughly 1,400 people charged in the attack on the Capitol, including Fischer and Trump. A Supreme Court ruling dismissing the charges against Fischer could make it more complicated — but not impossible — to bring charges against Trump, experts say. The charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years, although Jan. 6 defendants convicted of obstruction received much lower sentences.

This is one of four criminal cases against Trump, whose first trial begins Monday in New York on charges of hush money paid to a porn star. Trump has pleaded not guilty in all the cases and called them politically motivated.

The Supreme Court on March 4 reversed a Colorado Supreme Court ruling to bar Trump from voting in the state under a constitutional provision related to insurrection. But the justices did not address the lower court’s finding that Trump had created “an atmosphere of political violence” and was “engaged in an insurrection” before the Jan. 6 attack.


Until Trump, no former president had faced criminal charges.

Trump has claimed he has “absolute immunity” because he was serving as president when he took the actions that led to Smith’s election subversion charges. Smith has urged the Supreme Court to reject this claim based on the principle that “no one is above the law.”

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In August 2023, Smith filed four federal charges against Trump in the election subversion case: conspiracy to defraud the United States, corruptly obstructing an official proceeding and conspiracy to do so, and conspiracy against the right of Americans to vote.

Fischer is awaiting trial on six felony charges, including assaulting or obstructing officers and civil disorder, while he fights his obstruction charge in the Supreme Court.

During the attack, prosecutors say Fischer attacked police officers guarding the entrance to the Capitol. Fischer, then a member of the North Cornwall Township Police Department in Pennsylvania, stepped inside and pressed against an officer’s riot shield as police attempted to clear rioters. He stayed in the building for four minutes before police pushed him out.

U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols, a Trump appointee, dismissed Fischer’s obstruction charge, ruling that it only applies to defendants who tampered with evidence. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed that decision, ruling that the law broadly covers “all forms of corrupt obstruction of official proceedings.”

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A Supreme Court decision in favor of Fischer could mean that hundreds of other defendants facing the same charges could seek to be resentenced, withdraw their guilty pleas or request a new trial.

“In most cases it may not make much practical difference, because if defendants are convicted of multiple charges, the judge might decide not to modify the sentence even if the obstruction charge is gone,” said Randall Eliason, a former federal prosecutor who now teaches. from George Washington University School of Law.

About two-thirds of the Jan. 6 suspects charged with obstruction were also charged with other crimes.

Eliason said a victory for Fischer might not stop Smith from pursuing charges against Trump, despite the higher bar the Supreme Court might set.

“The charges against Trump are likely to survive because Smith will be able to argue that his case involved evidence-based obstruction based on the lists of fake voters,” Eliason said.

Legal experts have said the Supreme Court should rule around June 1 to conclude the trial of the election-related charges against Trump by November 5. If Trump regains the presidency, he could try to end the prosecution or possibly issue a pardon. himself from any federal crimes. Trump has promised to pardon the January 6 defendants.

(Reporting by John Kruzel; Editing by Will Dunham and Scott Malone)

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