US Supreme Court will hear Donald Trump's immunity claim in Jan 6 Capitol case - Hindustan Times
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Feb 29, 2024 11:18 AM IST

US Supreme Court to hear Trump's immunity claim in 2020 election interference case, potentially delaying trial until after 2024 election.

On Wednesday, the US Supreme Court announced that it would hear the case of Donald Trump, who claims that he has absolute immunity from prosecution in the criminal investigation into his attempts to overturn the 2020 election results.

The Supreme Court agreed on Feb. 28, 2024, to decide whether former President Donald Trump can be prosecuted on charges he interfered with the 2020 election and has set a course for a quick resolution. (House Select Committee via AP)(AP)
The Supreme Court agreed on Feb. 28, 2024, to decide whether former President Donald Trump can be prosecuted on charges he interfered with the 2020 election and has set a course for a quick resolution. (House Select Committee via AP)(AP)

This decision could delay the trial until after the 2024 election.

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The court scheduled oral arguments for the week of April 22 to review a recent ruling by a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the DC circuit, which strongly denied Trump’s immunity claim in a decision earlier this month.

The Court will see through the whole

The criminal case against the former president will be paused until the Supreme Court makes its final judgment on the issue, putting it in the politically sensitive position of possibly affecting whether Trump will face trial before the presidential election in November.

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The court’s order, which did not have any signatures, said that the court planned to address at oral arguments “whether and if so, to what extent does a former president enjoy presidential immunity from criminal prosecution for conduct alleged to involve official acts during his tenure in office”.

What is the accusation against Trump?

In the federal 2020 election case, Trump is accused of four counts of criminal charges in Washington DC by the special counsel, Jack Smith, who alleges that Trump conspired to defraud the United States, conspired to obstruct the congressional certification of the election results, and violated rights.

Trump tried to get the charges dismissed last year, arguing in a 52-page document that the actions he was accused of were part of the so-called “outer perimeter” of his official duties, which meant that he could not be prosecuted because of the wide protections given to the presidency.

The document to dismiss argued that all of Trump’s efforts to reverse his 2020 election loss detailed in the charges, from pressuring his vice-president, Mike Pence, to stop the congressional certification of Biden’s win to creating fake slates of electors.

Trump asked for ‘immunity’

The core of the Trump legal team’s document was the extraordinary claim that not only was Trump entitled to absolute presidential immunity, but that the immunity applied no matter what Trump’s intention was in doing the actions described in the charges.

The arguments were rejected by the US district judge in charge of the case, Tanya Chutkan, and later by the three-judge panel of the DC circuit.

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“Former President Trump’s position would destroy our system of separated powers by putting the President out of the reach of all three Branches,” the opinion said.

“We cannot agree that the office of the Presidency places its former holders above the law forever after.”

The 45th US president's lawyers chose to pursue the immunity claim last October mainly because it is what is known as an interlocutory appeal. This appeal can be argued before trial.

Trump has 87 days left from that period, calculated by finding the difference between the original trial date of March 4 and December 8.

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