NewsSupreme Court to decide on Trump's claim of presidential immunity

Supreme Court to decide on Trump's claim of presidential immunity

Donald Trump
Donald Trump
Images source: © PAP | Andrew Harnik
6:26 AM EST, February 29, 2024

The Supreme Court has agreed to review an appeal from the appellate court in Washington, brought forward by Trump himself. The appellate court had determined that once Trump left office, he became a private citizen and lost his presidential immunity.

Both parties will have the opportunity to present their arguments during a hearing scheduled for April 22, indicating an expedited proceeding. However, the Supreme Court’s decision to hear the case will further delay Trump’s trial, which was originally set to begin in early March.

According to Politico, even with a swift ruling that rejects Trump’s request, the Washington trial could be postponed until August or September, closely coinciding with the November presidential elections. Some experts, like former federal judge Michael Luttig, think this effectively makes conducting the trial before the elections unfeasible.

Some had anticipated the Supreme Court might reject the appeal, leaving the lower court's decision intact.

Does Trump have "absolute immunity"?

Throughout hearings and on social media, Trump and his lawyers have argued for a president's "absolute" immunity, suggesting that without it, the threat of prosecution might hinder a president's effectiveness. Trump’s attorney, John Sauer, contended that a president could not be prosecuted—unless previously impeached and convicted by the Senate—even for commanding special forces to assassinate a political opponent. However, the appellate court dismissed this broad interpretation of the law.

The appellate court stated in early February, "For this criminal case, Trump, the former President, is now citizen Trump, entitled to all defensive means available to any accused. The executive immunity protecting him as president does not shield him from these charges."

In Washington, Trump faces four criminal charges, including conspiracy against the United States, stemming from his attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. Although Trump is implicated in three other cases, probably, only the New York trial related to state charges over hush money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels and other women during the 2016 campaign will proceed before the elections.

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