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Court Denies Trump Executive Immunity

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has ruled that Donald Trump will not be allowed to use presidential immunity in his trial for crimes in 2020, as he is no longer president. 


The Republican front-runner had put forward three arguments for claiming that the court cannot make a judgement based on the fact that the US practises a separation of powers; and that a former president cannot be criminally convicted if they were not impeached during their term. The three-panel court ruled thatwe reject all three potential bases for immunity both as a categorical defense to federal criminal prosecutions of former Presidents and as applied to this case in particular.


In a ruling in December 2023, a court had already ruled that  “... any executive immunity that may have protected him while he served as president no longer protects him against prosecution.” Trump later appealed against the ruling, the appeal was accepted, despite arguments against it, and a formal hearing was held on January 9. 


In August 2023, the former president was indicted for allegedly engaging in “systematic and deliberate efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and prevent the lawful transfer of power to his successor.” 


In November 2023, Trump claimed that “he enjoys absolute immunity from criminal prosecution for acts taken within the ‘outer perimeter’ of his official responsibilities and that the indictment’s allegations all fall within that range.” The response was that he does not enjoy any such privileges and, even if he did, the grounds would be much “narrower than the ‘outer perimeter’.” 


There is no doubt that Trump will appeal this ruling as well; however, this does put a spanner in the works for the most likely Republican candidate. Getting stuck in legal battles may lead to the presidential candidate not being able to campaign effectively. It also poses a question about the legitimacy of executive immunity and whether it means free reigns for a president to do as they please, even after their term has ended. 


On Thursday, the Supreme Court is set to hear a case related to Trump being effectively banned from the ballot list in Colorado, claiming that his supporters storming the Capitol following the Joe Biden win, is a sign that he is unfit to run for presidency. The state of Maine has also kept Trump off the ballot list for similar reasons, although the hearing for that case is on hold, set to take place after the hearing on Thursday.  

Speaking on the social media platform “Truth”, Trump claimed that “A President of the United States must have Full Immunity in order to properly function and do what has to be done for the good of our Country. A Nation-destroying ruling like this cannot be allowed to stand. If not overturned, as it should be, this decision would terribly injure not only the Presidency, but the Life, Breath, and Success of our Country.

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