A federal appeals court decision regarding a Capitol rioter’s obstruction conviction will land Donald Trump in hot water. Here’s why.
What is Corrupt?
A divided federal appeals court recently upheld the conviction and 87-month sentence of a Capitol rioter, Thomas Robertson, who argued that he had not acted “corruptly.”
This legal decision has broader implications, particularly for former President Donald Trump, as it centers around the definition of “corruptly.”
I’m Not Corrupt
Robertson’s appeal challenged his conviction for obstructing Congress by claiming that his actions were not “corrupt.”
His lawyers contended that “corruptly” meant acting “for the unlawful advantage of himself or an associate.”
Trump’s Not Either
Similarly, Trump has argued that he could not have violated the statute because he was exercising his First Amendment rights by expressing concerns about election fraud.
Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad
In Robertson’s case, two of the three judges on the panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the definition applied in jury instructions, which defined “corruptly” as using “unlawful means” or “with an unlawful purpose” and “consciousness of wrongdoing.”
You Are Corrupt, Actually
Judge Florence Pan stated, “The evidence presented at Robertson’s trial was undoubtedly sufficient to prove that he acted ‘corruptly.'”
Or Maybe You’re Not
However, Appeals Judge Karen Henderson disagreed, arguing that the decision makes “the commission of any crime ‘corrupt’ because any crime requires the use of unlawful means or an unlawful purpose or both.”
Sounds Like Lawyer Talk
This federal court decision has ramifications for Donald Trump’s legal challenges. Trump’s lawyers have argued that the indictment against him is flawed because it does not adequately allege that he acted “corruptly.”
Trump’s Deficiently Corrupt
Trump, who is facing a federal charge related to his actions surrounding the 2020 election, will likely be affected by this ruling. According to Trump’s lawyers, this decision highlights the deficiency in the indictment against him.
The outcome of his case could hinge on whether his actions were, in fact, “corrupt” under the legal definition. “Corruptly” is a pivotal term that may significantly impact the outcome of Trump’s federal election conspiracy case.
Remember the Insurrection?
This decision is part of a broader legal landscape related to January 6, 2021. It addresses the Justice Department’s ability to prosecute individuals involved in the Capitol riot with obstruction charges.
Don’t Stop the Steal!
In essence, it allows prosecutors to use the law that criminalizes obstructing an official proceeding as they pursue legal action against those who disrupted the certification of the 2020 presidential election.
Bad Boys, Bad Boys
The court ruling upholds the application of the obstruction law in the case of Thomas Robertson, a former police sergeant from Virginia, convicted for his role in the Capitol riot.
His appeal was based on the use of the obstruction law regarding the riot, challenging whether he had acted “corruptly.”
Not All Cops
The recent decision by the federal appeals court reinforces that convictions like Robertson’s can stand, as it underscores that they meet the “corrupt” criteria under the law.
Robertson’s actions in the riot were deemed to have met the “corrupt” standard due to the felony nature of his obstructive behavior.
Back to Corrupt
This ruling is of utmost importance in the ongoing legal challenges associated with the Capitol riot. It serves as a precedent for cases like Robertson’s.
It has a direct impact on Donald Trump’s federal election conspiracy case, as the interpretation of “corruptly” becomes a focal point in determining culpability and legality.
“Seems a Bit Biased?”
Online news has predictably led to an outcry amongst Trump supporters and his detractors. One such Trump supporting comment read, “Anybody arrested for obstructing Congress last week? Seems a bit biased?”
Another posted, “Democrats will go to the mat to keep the stolen 2020 election from being exposed.”
However, most of the responses to the news came down firmly against those who took part in the January 6 insurrection.
One such comment read, “People who believe that what they did January 6 was not illegal are the slime of this country. Put them in jail and keep them there.” Another said simply, “Next criminal please.”
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