The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has ruled that Donald Trump is not immune from federal prosecution. The three-judge panel’s decision means that Trump will go to trial to face the criminal indictment accusing him of seeking to overturn his loss to President Biden.
The ruling comes a month after Trump's lawyers argued that Trump had immunity from federal prosecution as a former president. Special counsel Jack Smith, who is leading the federal investigation, counter-argued that this precedent would give presidents free reign to commit crimes while in the White House, undermining national security and the strength of American democracy.
The judges decided that for the purposes of the federal investigation into election interference, "former President Trump has become citizen Trump, with all of the defenses of any other criminal defendant."
"It would be a striking paradox if the President, who alone is vested with the constitutional duty to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed,' were the sole officer capable of defying those laws with impunity.”
“We cannot accept former President Trump’s claim that a President has unbounded authority to commit crimes that would neutralize the most fundamental check on executive power — the recognition and implementation of election results. Nor can we sanction his apparent contention that the Executive has carte blanche to violate the rights of individual citizens to vote and to have their votes count," the panel argued.
They also decided that this ruling only applies to this federal investigation.
Trump has pleaded not guilty to four felony counts that accuse him of attempting to overturn the 2020 election and inciting his followers to attack the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, resulting in 140 injured law enforcement officers.