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Appeals Court Rejects Trump's Presidential Immunity Claim

By Selena Richards | Posted on February 6, 2024

Fox 5 NY via Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

Photo Source: Fox 5 NY via Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

A federal appeals court has unanimously ruled that Donald Trump is not immune from criminal prosecution for his alleged efforts to reverse his loss in the 2020 presidential election. Trump's argument that his status as president at the time of the alleged crimes shielded him from charges was flatly rejected by the three-judge panel in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Presidential immunity refers to the legal principle that protects sitting presidents from certain civil and criminal lawsuits while they are in office. This immunity is based on the separation of powers doctrine and aims to prevent distractions and harassment that could impede the president's ability to carry out their duties effectively. However, the extent and scope of presidential immunity are subject to interpretation, and it does not shield presidents from impeachment or legal investigation after leaving office.

The appeals panel dismissed Trump's immunity claim, stating that as a former president, he is subject to prosecution like any other citizen. Trump's legal team's arguments for immunity were rejected both categorically and in the context of the specific case. This decision paves the way for Trump to stand trial before the upcoming November election.

Trump's campaign spokesman criticized the ruling, arguing that without complete presidential immunity, future ex-presidents could face immediate indictment by opposing parties upon leaving office. However, the Department of Justice special counsel, Jack Smith, maintains that Trump's prosecution is constitutional and necessary for upholding the rule of law. Trump has pleaded not guilty to the charges brought against him.

In response to the ruling, Trump has indicated his intention to appeal to the Supreme Court "in an effort to safeguard the presidency and the Constitution."

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