Federal appeals court rules that Donald Trump does not have presidential immunity in January 6 case

Former US President Donald J. Trump at the 2023 CPAC. National Harbor^ MD US - Mar 4^ 2023
Former US President Donald J. Trump at the 2023 CPAC. National Harbor^ MD US - Mar 4^ 2023

A federal appeals court in Washington found former President Donald Trump is not entitled to broad immunity from federal prosecution. A three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said in its opinion Tuesday that it is upholding the decision from a lower court denying him absolute immunity from prosecution.  The landmark decision would allow the criminal case against the former president involving the 2020 presidential election to move forward if the ruling is upheld.

The panel, consisting of Judges Karen LeCraft Henderson, Michelle Childs and Florence Pan, wrote in its opinion: “For the purpose of this criminal case, former President Trump has become citizen Trump, with all of the defenses of any other criminal defendant. But any executive immunity that may have protected him while he served as President no longer protects him against this prosecution.”

Trump’s attorneys argued before the three-judge panel last month, claiming that Trump’s alleged actions in the Washington election interference case are protected by presidential immunity. Trump may appeal the decision and it is still possible that the case will come before the U.S. Supreme Court, though not likely. The Supreme Court previously denied special counsel Jack Smith’s request to hear the case, deferring it to the appeals court.

Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung responded to the court’s decision in an email blast: “If immunity is not granted to a president, every future president who leaves office will be immediately indicted by the opposing party,” Cheung wrote. “Without complete immunity, a president of the United States would not be able to properly function!”

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