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Trump presidential immunity claim rejected by DC court

Former President of the United States Donald Trump at the "Rally to Protect Our Elections" hosted by Turning Point Action at Arizona Federal Theatre in Phoenix, Ariz., July 24, 2022. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
February 06, 2024

Former President Donald Trump’s presidential immunity claim regarding four federal charges of alleged election interference in the 2020 election was rejected Tuesday by a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled Tuesday that Trump does not have presidential immunity from Special Counsel Jack Smith’s prosecution in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

“We have balanced former President Trump’s asserted interests in executive immunity against the vital public interests that favor allowing this prosecution to proceed,” the three-judge panel stated. “We conclude that ‘[c]oncerns of public policy, especially as illuminated by our history and the structure of our government’ compel the rejection of his claim of immunity in this case.”

Upholding the previous ruling of a trial court judge, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit argued that it could not “accept that the office of the Presidency places its former occupants above the law for all time thereafter.”

“For the purpose of this criminal case, former President Trump has become citizen Trump, with all of the defenses of any other criminal defendant,” the panel explained. “But any executive immunity that may have protected him while he served as President no longer protects him against this prosecution.”

According to CNBC, the three-judge panel that unanimously ruled against Trump’s legal team consists of two judges appointed by Democrats and one judge appointed by a Republican.

READ MORE: Trump Jan 6 case removed from court docket

In a statement obtained by The Hill, Steven Cheung, a Trump campaign spokesperson, provided a response to the court’s rejection of the former president’s immunity claim.

“Prosecuting a President for official acts violates the Constitution and threatens the bedrock of our Republic,” Cheung said. “President Trump respectfully disagrees with the DC Circuit’s decision and will appeal it in order to safeguard the Presidency and the Constitution.”

CNBC reported that the former president is expected to appeal his claim of presidential immunity to the Supreme Court, which would prevent Smith from quickly moving forward with the case against Trump.

According to The Daily Wire, while Smith has urged for the trial to move quickly in an apparent attempt to avoid the possibility of Trump winning the 2024 election prior to the conclusion of the case, an appeal to the Supreme Court could delay the former president’s prosecution until after the 2024 election. If Trump was elected, the Department of Justice could move to dismiss the charges against him, or Trump could use his presidential authority to pardon himself from any alleged offenses related to the 2020 election.