U.S. Judge Rules Trump Not Immune from Criminal Charges Stemming from Presidency

Donald Trump, who is a frontrunner for the Republican nomination in the 2024 U.S. election, served as president from 2017 to 2021.

A U.S. judge has ruled that Donald Trump is not immune from criminal charges related to his actions during his presidency.

This decision, issued by U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, rejects Trump’s attempt to dismiss the case brought against him by Special Counsel Jack Smith.

The case accuses Trump of unlawfully attempting to overturn his 2020 election loss.

Judge Chutkan’s ruling is significant because it establishes that former presidents can face criminal charges just like any other citizen once they leave office.

She emphasized that while a sitting president may have certain immunities, those privileges do not grant them a lifelong “get-out-of-jail-free” pass.

Donald Trump, who is a frontrunner for the Republican nomination in the 2024 U.S. election, served as president from 2017 to 2021.

This ruling brings him one step closer to facing a jury trial on charges related to his alleged interference in the electoral vote counting process and obstruction of congressional certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election.

Trump had also argued that the charges violated his First Amendment rights, claiming that the case aimed to criminalize political speech and advocacy. However, Judge Chutkan rejected this argument.

The trial is scheduled to commence in March, but Trump has the option to appeal the ruling, potentially delaying the proceedings as higher courts consider the issue.

Trump’s legal team has raised additional claims to dismiss the case, including arguments that his alleged conduct does not align with the charges brought against him.

In addition to the federal case pursued by Special Counsel Jack Smith, Donald Trump faces state criminal charges in Georgia related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, as well as two other indictments. He has pleaded not guilty in all these cases.

While the U.S. Justice Department has traditionally adhered to an internal policy of not indicting sitting presidents, prosecutors in this case have argued that no such restrictions apply once a president leaves office.

Trump’s defense had asserted that he should enjoy absolute immunity from criminal charges stemming from his official actions as president, but this claim was rejected by the court.

Prosecutors contended that granting such immunity would place the U.S. president above the law, contradicting fundamental principles of the Constitution.