Appeal Court Rejects Trump’s Claim Of ‘Absolute’ Presidential Immunity
On Tuesday, a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., upheld a ruling that former President Donald Trump does not have presidential immunity in the case against him in the federal case against him for attempting to overturn the 2020 election.
The decision increases the chances that Trump will be tried before the November election. Trump is expected to petition the Supreme Court to overrule the decision.
In their decision, the panel of three judges wrote, “We can not accept that the office of the presidency places its former occupants above the law for all time thereafter. . . Nor can we sanction his apparent contention that the executive has carte blanche to violate the right of individual citizens to vote and to have their votes count.”
A federal election interference case is currently being prosecuted in a U.S. district court in Washington, D.C., by Department of Justice Special Counsel Jack Smith.
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In the initial proceedings, Trump’s lawyers claimed he enjoyed immunity from federal prosecution. Lawyers for the special counsel said this view would “undermine democracy” and would only embolden future presidents to commit crimes while in office. Trump has pleaded not guilty to the four charges brought against him.
During the oral arguments, the appeals court judges pressed Trump’s lawyers about exactly what “acceptable crimes” committed by a president would be. Judge Florence Pan asked about whether a president might sell pardons or nuclear secrets, or even order political assassinations and still avoid prosecution.
Trump responded to the panel’s decision on his social media platform Truth Social.
“A President of the United States must have Full Immunity in order to properly function and do what has to be done for the good of our Country . . . if not overturned, as it should be, this decision would terribly injure not only the Presidency, but the Life, breath, and Success of our Country,” he wrote.
Steven Cheung, Trump’s spokesperson, said in a statement, “If immunity is not granted to a President, every future President who leaves office will be immediately indicted by the opposing party. Without complete immunity, a President of the United States would not be able to properly function.”
Smith has not yet responded to the decision.
Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) and Elise Stefanik (R-New York) introduced a resolution Tuesday in reaction to the ruling that states that Trump “did not engage in insurrection or rebellion against the United States.” The resolution is co-sponsored by 60 members of Congress.
Trump is still facing 91 criminal charges in both state and federal courts.
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