A US federal court panel rejected Trump’s argument for immunity from prosecution for the 2020 election

A federal appeals panel ruled Tuesday that Donald Trump can be tried on charges of conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 election, rejecting the former president’s claims that he is immune from prosecution.

The highly anticipated unanimous decision from a bipartisan panel marks the second time in as many months that justices have rejected Trump’s immunity arguments and held that he could be prosecuted for actions taken while he was in the White House and in the lead-up to Jan. 6. 2021, when a crowd of his supporters stormed the US Capitol.

“We cannot accept that the office of the presidency will place its former occupants above the law for all time thereafter,” the justices wrote. The committee rejected the argument that future presidents would face an increased risk of prosecution.

The trial date in Trump’s federal election interference case carries huge political ramifications, with the Republican primary candidate hoping to delay it until after the November 5 election. If Trump defeats President Joe Biden, he will likely try to use his position as head of the executive branch to order the new attorney general to dismiss federal cases or potentially seek a pardon himself, plunging the country into unprecedented territory.

The Court of Appeal took center stage in the immunity dispute after the Supreme Court said last month that it would at least temporarily stay away from that dispute, rejecting a request from special counsel Jack Smith to quickly consider the matter and issue a speedy ruling.

A question that was not legally tested before the court was whether former presidents could be tried after leaving office for actions taken in the White House related to their official duties.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court will hear another legal case that stems from a failed attempt to cling to power after losing the 2020 election to Biden. Colorado courts ruled that Trump was ineligible to appear on the state’s ballots because he engaged in insurrection as defined by Article 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

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‘Separation of powers will collapse’: judges

Trump’s lawyers argued before the Federal Commission that his post-election efforts, including convincing Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to certify the election results, all fell within the “periphery” of the president’s official business.

But Smith’s team said there was no such immunity in the US Constitution or in previous cases, and that Trump’s actions, in any case, were not part of his official duties.

Read the Appeals Committee ruling:

“At heart, former President Trump’s position would collapse our system of separation of powers by placing the president beyond the reach of the three powers,” the three justices wrote.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is presiding over the case, rejected Trump’s arguments in a Dec. 1 opinion that said the president’s office “does not grant a get-out-of-life pass.”

Trump’s lawyers then appealed to the D.C. Court of Appeals, but Smith asked the Supreme Court to weigh in first, hoping to get a quick and final ruling and keep the March 4 trial date. The Supreme Court rejected the request, leaving the matter to the Court of Appeal.

Chutkan postponed the March 4 date last week.

The case was discussed before Justices Florence Ban and J. Michelle Childs, appointed by Biden, a Democrat, and Karen LeCraft Henderson, appointed to the bench by President George H.W. Bush, a Republican.

Appeal possible

The justices gave Trump until February 12 to ask the Supreme Court to temporarily halt the ruling.

It is not guaranteed that the Supreme Court justices will hear the case before the end of their current term in June, or at all. He can also ask the entire Court of Appeal to hear the argument.

The immunity question will likely impact the 13-count indictment Trump faces in Georgia for trying to reverse his 2020 loss to Biden in that state.

Trump’s potential presidential immunity does not take effect in the trial scheduled for May 20 over allegations that he illegally kept government documents after leaving the presidency in early 2021. But the pace of pretrial rulings has raised questions about whether that start date will be met.

On March 25, he faces a trial date in New York on charges of falsifying business records to cover up bribery payments over alleged extramarital affairs that he did not want to become public knowledge during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The legal risks have come with heavy costs for Trump and his supporters. According to federal campaign spending data.

Trump is the first president to face criminal indictments.

Bill Clinton in his final days in office. He struck a deal that ensured he would not face trialFor giving false testimony under oath regarding his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Clinton paid a fine and had his law license suspended.

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