Top US court agrees to decide Trump immunity claims

Donald Trump, former U.S. President

© APA | Donald Trump, former U.S. President

# 29 February 2024 20:05 (UTC +04:00)

The Supreme Court will decide if ex-President Donald Trump is immune from being prosecuted on charges of trying to overturn the 2020 election, APA reports citing BBC.

The 6-3 conservative majority court said it will hear arguments in April. A ruling could come by the end of June.

A US Court of Appeals panel has already rejected Mr Trump's argument.

He had claimed in the landmark legal case that he was immune from all criminal charges for acts that he said fell within his duties as president.

The Supreme Court taking the case is being seen as a victory for the former president as it increases the chances that his trial may not happen before November's presidential election.

On his Truth Social site, Mr Trump welcomed Wednesday's decision and contended that without immunity presidents could be "paralyzed, by the prospect of wrongful prosecution and retaliation after they leave office".

Donald Trump was charged last year with witness tampering and conspiracy to defraud the US over his attempts to overturn his 2020 election loss to Joe Biden.

Jack Smith, who was appointed as special counsel in the investigation, brought the charges against Mr Trump, and pushed for the trial to be held this year.

When Mr Trump claimed immunity, Mr Smith asked the Supreme Court to take up that question but in January they declined and it fell to the federal appeals court in Washington.

The appeals court rejected his immunity arguments earlier this month, ruling unanimously against the 77-year-old.

"We cannot accept former President Trump's claim that a president has unbounded authority to commit crimes that would neutralise the most fundamental check on executive power - the recognition and implementation of election results," it wrote.

The Supreme Court could have let the appellate court judgement stand, which would have allowed the trial proceedings to resume.

Instead, a minimum of four of the nine justices voted to take up the case. That suggests that there is some debate within the court on whether Mr Trump has some immunity from prosecution.

The trial was originally scheduled for March but arguments in the Supreme Court case are now due for the week of 22 April, and any trial will have to wait until after a decision is made.

Although a decision could come swiftly, the justices may rule that the former president is immune from prosecution, or issue a decision that further delays legal action.

Justice Department guidelines limit prosecutorial action in politically sensitive investigations from within 60 days of an election - meaning prosecutors face a deadline of early September.

And if Mr Trump wins in November, there is a growing possibility that the case never reaches trial. His Justice Department officials could drop or indefinitely suspend the special counsel investigation, or he could take the unprecedented step of issuing a pardon for himself.

The Republican front-runner candidate for president is facing a host of other federal and state criminal charges.

The first trial he will face will be in late March on charges of falsifying business records over hush-money payments his lawyer made to a porn star.

The Supreme Court is also hearing arguments in a separate case weighing whether Mr Trump can be disqualified from running for a second term under the 14th Amendment's "insurrection ban."

Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty in all the cases, frequently referring to them as political "witch hunts".