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Monday, July 1, 2024
Supreme Court rules for broad presidential immunity in Donald Trump election subversion case
By Court House News @ 10:45 AM :: 539 Views :: National News, Ethics, Office of Elections

Supreme Court rules for broad presidential immunity in Donald Trump election subversion case

The justices’ ruling all but guarantees that Donald Trump’s culpability in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election will not be determined before the 2024 election.

by Kelsey Reichmann, Court House News, July 1, 2024

WASHINGTON (CN) — The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that former presidents have absolute immunity for official acts in Donald Trump's challenge to election subversion charges, setting a test for the lower courts that could further delay the former president’s election subversion trial. 

Trump claimed his former position as the country’s chief executive entitled him to immunity from criminal charges. The argument expanded on the high court’s 1982 ruling in Fitzgerald v. Nixon, where the justices absolved presidents from civil liability for official actions.

The former president faces four criminal charges in D.C. for conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of an official proceeding and conspiracy against rights. Special counsel Jack Smith claims Trump created a fake elector scheme and attempted to obstruct the presidential transfer of power. 

Trump has pleaded not guilty to his four charges and the 87 other criminal counts he faces outside of Smith’s D.C. case. 

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan in the District of Columbia and a three-judge panel on the D.C. Circuit both rejected Trump’s presidential immunity claim. 

Trump’s D.C. trial was originally scheduled to begin in March, but he succeeded in delaying proceedings while his immunity plea was resolved. The Supreme Court refused Smith’s attempt to fast-track the appeal in December. The justices didn’t schedule arguments in the case until late April, leaving little time for the trial to move forward before the 2024 election. 

The setback mired the court in controversy over the possibility of preventing the trial from moving forward. Leaving the trial on an extended pause has put Trump’s election subversion case on a collision course with his 2024 presidential campaign, and it's unlikely a trial could be held so close to the November elections. While presidential immunity for former presidents was up for debate, the Justice Department has a rule against prosecuting the current office holder.

In May, Trump became the first former American president to be convicted of a felony after a unanimous New York jury found him guilty of all 34 counts of falsifying business records.

This is a developing story and will be updated...

---30---

AP: Live updates: Supreme Court issues ruling on Trump immunity | AP News -- No immunity for UN-official acts.

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