A U.S. judge said Friday that Donald Trump is not immune from criminal charges for his actions as president, rejecting a Republican bid to drop a lawsuit charging him with conspiracy to overturn his 2020 election defeat. did.
U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan in Washington ruled that there is no legal basis to conclude that a U.S. president cannot face criminal charges after he leaves office.
Trump, a front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, could immediately appeal the ruling, potentially delaying the trial while the appeals court and possibly the Supreme Court consider the issue. The trial is currently scheduled to begin in March.
Chutkan’s ruling brings Trump one step closer to being tried by a jury on charges of interfering with vote counting and conspiring to prevent Congress from certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s defeat.
Trump has maintained his innocence and accused prosecutors of trying to damage his campaign. The case is one of four criminal charges facing President Trump as he seeks to retake the White House.
President Trump is pursuing other legal motions seeking to dismiss the lawsuit, alleging it violates his free speech rights and is legally flawed.
Trump is the first current or former U.S. president to face criminal charges, making the Chutkan decision the first time a U.S. court recognizes that presidents can be held liable for crimes like other citizens. .
The Justice Department has long had an internal policy not to prosecute sitting presidents, but prosecutors said such restrictions no longer exist after a president leaves the White House.
Trump’s lawyers insist he has “absolute immunity” from charges arising from his official actions as president, and political opponents could use threats of criminal prosecution to obstruct the president from accountability. He claimed to have sex.
His lawyers argued that the immunity afforded to U.S. presidents from civil lawsuits should be extended to criminal charges.
Prosecutors argued that Mr. Trump’s claims essentially put the president above the law, violating fundamental principles of the U.S. Constitution.
(Reporting by Andrew Gouseward; Editing by Scott Malone and Daniel Wallis)
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