Donald Trump has been ruled not immune from prosecution for alleged crimes committed while he was in the White House. The decision comes two days before Trump’s attorneys will argue before the Supreme Court that his actions leading up to and on January 6, 2021, should not disqualify him from running in the GOP primaries. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that Trump has become a citizen, with all the defences of any other criminal defendant. However, any executive immunity that may have protected him while he served as president no longer protects him against this prosecution.
Former federal prosecutor and elected state attorney Michael McAuliffe said that Tuesday’s decision affirms “the basic tenet that no one—not even the president—stands above the law in our constitutional system.” He said that what happens next is of paramount importance to preserving the ability of the court system to keep criminal proceedings moving forward. Trump could appeal this ruling to the Supreme Court, setting up a second date with the justices, or ask for the federal appeals court to hear the case again but this time by the full, 15-judge D.C. court, in what is known as an en banc review.
Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung said that if Trump is not granted immunity, “every future president who leaves office will be immediately indicted by the opposing party” and that any president would be unable to serve in his official capacity. Cheung argued that “deranged Jack Smith’s prosecution of President Trump for his presidential official acts is unconstitutional under the doctrine of presidential immunity and the separation of powers. Prosecuting a president for official acts violates the Constitution and threatens the bedrock of our republic.”
McAuliffe said the appeals court’s decision not only offers “a substantive and detailed decision rejecting broad presidential immunity from criminal liability” but also supports the argument that Trump’s alleged crimes should be addressed and resolved prior to the presidential election.