Donald Trump’s claims that he, as a former president, has absolute immunity and cannot be prosecuted even for criminal actions, have been rejected.
The DC Circuit Court of Appeals released its decision Tuesday, nearly a month after his lawyer insisted that even ordering an assassination of a political opponent wouldn’t rise to the level of criminal charges.
The decision is brief, merely affirming what the District Court had ruled before — that presidential immunity is not absolute, that it does not cover the criminal allegations against Trump, and that the prosecution can proceed. There’s one catch, though: Trump still has one court in which he can seek a rescue.
The mandate for his criminal proceedings to resume is held in abeyance until February 12th, to give Trump’s legal time enough time to formally submit their intent to appeal. If Trump doesn’t appeal, Judge Tanya Chutkan can resume the trial after that point, but there is every indication he intends to take his case to the Supreme Court.
Once the case hits SCOTUS, what to expect is murky. The Justices could refuse to even hear the case, leaving the lower court’s ruling in place, and Trump could be back in a courtroom before summer.
Or, they could agree to hear his arguments, and the delays could stretch out through election season.
It’s possible the court could hear his case and expedite a ruling, especially with elections riding on the outcome and voters across the country waiting for more information on which to base their votes — but there’s no certainty that the Justices, even with an extremely right-leaning court, will rule in Trump’s favor.
Trump has been raging on social media and in public statements, insisting that if he’s not granted immunity, it will deter future presidents from taking important actions. He’s also assured the public that if there is no immunity for presidents, every president going forward can expect to be indicted upon the end of their term. Just hours before the ruling was issued, he reiterated his claims:
“IF IMMUNITY IS NOT GRANTED TO A PRESIDENT, EVERY PRESIDENT THAT LEAVES OFFICE WILL BE IMMEDIATELY INDICTED BY THE OPPOSING PARTY. WITHOUT COMPLETE IMMUNITY, A PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO PROPERLY FUNCTION!”
You can see the appeals court’s ruling below.
BREAKING: Donald Trump is *NOT* immune from prosecution, DC Circuit rules.
Details TK pic.twitter.com/U0rgc5kNXd
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) February 6, 2024
This is a developing story. Check back for updates later in the day.
Steph Bazzle is a news writer who covers politics and theocracy, always aiming for a world free from extremism and authoritarianism. Follow Steph on Twitter @imjustasteph. Sign up for all of her stories to be delivered to your inbox here: