Trump’s Own Judges Flip On Him

Gage Skidmore from Surprise, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

( – In a series of legal cases, judges appointed by former President Donald Trump have issued rulings against him. One of the most recent and notable instances is a decision by a federal appeals court, which includes Judge Gregory Katsas, a Trump appointee. The court denied Trump’s claim to presidential immunity in civil lawsuits related to his alleged role in the events of January 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol.

This decision reflects a growing trend of Trump’s appointees not ruling in his favor, particularly in the 2020 election and Capitol riot cases. For example, in a defamation case Trump filed against CNN, seeking $475 million in damages, Judge Raag Singhal, another Trump appointee, dismissed the lawsuit. Singhal ruled that CNN’s reference to Trump’s election fraud claims as “the Big Lie” was an expression of opinion and not a factual statement, thus not meeting the defamation threshold.

Another setback for Trump occurred in December 2022. In this instance, a federal appeals court in Florida, which included Trump-appointed Judges Andrew Brasher and Britt Grant, overturned a ruling that had barred the Justice Department from using documents found during the raid at Mar-a-Lago. The judges noted the absence of evidence that the records were declassified and stated that declassification wouldn’t alter their official nature.

In the recent ruling against presidential immunity, Judge Katsas made a nuanced point while concurring with the decision. He noted that political speech is generally considered unofficial. However, he acknowledged that there could be exceptions where comments made during political events might be immune from lawsuits, citing an example from President George W. Bush’s tenure. Katsas emphasized that the court’s current stance does not definitively resolve whether Trump’s speech on January 6 was official or private. He pointed out that the ruling was cautious and left open the question of whether the speech is entitled to immunity and whether it might be protected under the First Amendment.

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