NewsFederal appeals court rules: Trump may face prosecution over charges of invalidating 2020 elections

Federal appeals court rules: Trump may face prosecution over charges of invalidating 2020 elections

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Images source: © Getty Images | Chip Somodevilla

3:44 PM EST, February 6, 2024, updated: 4:07 AM EST, March 7, 2024

The Federal Appeals Court in Washington ruled Tuesday that Donald Trump cannot claim immunity. This verdict allows for the former president to be prosecuted on charges of conspiring to invalidate the 2020 elections.

Donald Trump Loses Claim to Immunity

Trump had previously claimed that he was exempt from criminal charges for actions he believed were within the scope of his presidential duties. However, Tuesday's ruling in Washington has overturned this claim. This comes as a setback for Trump who has frequently invoked presidential immunity in his defense against various accusations over the years.

For the purposes of this criminal case, former President Trump has become Citizen Trump, and he has at his disposal all the means of defense that any other defendant in a criminal case would have. However, any executive immunity he might have had during his presidency does not now shield him from prosecution - the court ruled following its three-person deliberation. 

The former president is expected to appeal this ruling, potentially sending the case to the Supreme Court. U.S. prosecutor Jack Smith has accused 77-year-old Trump of conspiring to undermine Joe Biden's victory and committing fraudulent acts to remain in office. The hearing of this case was initially scheduled for March 4, but was postponed until after the ruling on the immunity request was made.

If the Supreme Court has to hear the case, it might prolong the proceedings for a few weeks to even months. In the Supreme Court, conservatives hold the majority (6:3). One judge surmised that if granted immunity, Trump might sell state secrets or orchestrate the murder of a political rival without fear of criminal repercussions.

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