Judge rejects Trump’s claim of immunity in his 2020 federal election prosecution

(Meg Kinnard/Associated Press)

Judge rejects Trump’s claim of immunity in his 2020 federal election prosecution


Dec. 1, 2023

Former President Trump is not immune from prosecution in his Washington election interference case, a federal judge ruled Friday. In doing so, he rejected the Republican’s request to derail the case accusing him of conspiring to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan’s decision sets off a legal battle over the scope of presidential power that could ultimately reach the Supreme Court. Trump, who has denied wrongdoing in the case, is expected to file an appeal soon to fight what his lawyers have characterized as a volatile situation. legal question.

In her ruling, Chutkan said former presidents do not enjoy special conditions regarding their federal criminal liability.

The suspect may be subject to federal investigation, indictment, prosecution, conviction and punishment for any criminal acts committed while in office, she wrote.

Trump’s legal team had argued that the case, which is set to go to trial in March, should be dismissed because the 2024 Republican presidential candidate is protected from prosecution for actions he took while carrying out his duties as president. They allege that the actions described in the indictment, including pressuring state officials over the administration of elections, strike at the heart of Trump’s responsibilities as head of the executive branch.

The Supreme Court has ruled that presidents are immune from civil liability for actions related to their official duties, but the justices have never grappled with whether that immunity extends to criminal prosecution.

Special counsel Jack Smith’s team has said there is nothing in the Constitution or court precedent that supports the idea that a former president cannot be prosecuted for criminal conduct committed in the White House.

The suspect is not above the law. He is subject to federal criminal laws, like more than 330 million other Americans, including members of Congress, federal judges and ordinary citizens, prosecutors wrote in court filings.

It is one of four criminal cases facing Trump as he tries to win back the White House. Smith separately sued Trump in Florida for illegally hoarding classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate after he left the White House. Trump is also accused in Georgia of conspiring to overturn his election loss to Joe Biden. And he is being sued in New York for hush-money payments during the 2016 campaign.


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