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How Far Can the First Amendment Protect Donald Trump?

Posted by Sara Cooper | Aug 07, 2023 | 0 Comments

Former President Donald Trump pleaded not guilty to criminal charges applied to his actions in overthrowing the 2020 Presidential Election results. His legal team is planning to use the defense that the First Amendment applies under the Freedom of Speech was utilized and remains constitutional.

 Freedom of speech as a defense is a probable pattern that will be powered through in the future as more right-wing legislation is being passed and liberal states are mobilizing grassroots efforts to ensure protections are permanent.

With Trump being indicted for the third time, the most ever for a former U.S. President, here are the four serious federal offenses he is charged for:

  • Conspiracy to defraud the United States:

This applies to the multiple and expanded efforts of Trump's false claims about the election back in November 2020 while having knowledge that they were not true and for allegedly attempting to illegally discount legitimate votes for the intended goal of overturning the election, claimed by the prosecutors for this indictment.

  • Conspiracy to obstruct:

This applies to the official proceeding that was introduced in regards to the alleged organized planning of Trump and his following with strong allyship to disrupt the electoral vote's certification back in January 2021.

  • Obstruction of and attempt and obstruct and official proceeding:

Tied to the efforts of both Trump and his co-conspirators in blocking the official certification proceedings in Congress after the 2020 election on January 7th, 2021.

  • Conspiracy against rights:

Using the Civil War-era law, this applies to the alleged attempts performed by Trump and his co-conspirators to “oppress, threaten, and intimidate” the public using their right to vote for the 2020 election.

On Truth Social, Trump responded that a “fake indictment” was evidence of “prosecutorial misconduct.” The Trump campaign had labelled a formal statement and later, a fundraising pitch as “election interference.” GOP allies and other former enemies of Trump have responded as a claim that this indictment is led by the Biden Administration, not the federal courts.

According to NPR's White House correspondent, Franco Ordoňez, had recognized during an interview with All Things Considered, more about the attacks that are demonstrated from Former President Trump and his allies than the actual substance.

"They claim these are politically motivated charges. They attack the special counsel. But they don't necessarily refute specific allegations," Ordoñez said. "They don't argue Trump never incited those followers who attacked the Capitol. They never say that Trump didn't seek a group of fake electors."

After two impeachments and three indictments, Trump is in a conditioned spot that no matter what is faced against him or even federally charged, his supporters will have the ultimate loyalty for him and his proclaimed mission for “Make America Great Again.”

With Trump's legal representation using his freedom of speech as the defense towards these charges, how far does the First Amendment protect him, and what does this mean about using words as a form of influence for political and social action?

Well, the First Amendment does not shield fraud and it does not shield violence based on the following of a leader having extreme speeches for example.

Even if Trump did not have the knowledge of this false claims, they were transferred as steps into overturning votes for one of the most intense elections in U.S. history. Trump did not have the legal authority of manufacturing votes or putting pressure on the Secretary of State of Georgia to recount the votes that had the same results as the first time, as to why he is charged in the first place.

It is the intent that matters, and to take advantage of that power that harmed thousands of election workers and campaign volunteers across the country, this indictment has more a chance to be justified in the court of law.

Tanya Chutkan, the U.S. District Judge for the District of Colombia, will be the judge serving for Trump's case. Chutkan is an appointee of former President Barack Obama. She was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in June 2014. The renown judge has also been known for handing out some of the most severe sentences for rioters charged in the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol.

However, as a former public defender, she has resulted into having more consideration for defendants, what Trump is for this upcoming trial. We can't really split the possible decision with liberal v. conservative here, as defendants come from various backgrounds as well as the severity of the crimes with their scope of attention held by the media and the American population.

More news to come.

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