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US Supreme Court to decide Trump 2020 election case

Donald Trump has been ordered to pay a UK company he'd sued over a dossier of false claims.

Donald Trump has been ordered to pay a UK company he'd sued over a dossier of false claims. Photo: Getty

The US Supreme Court has agreed to decide Donald Trump’s claim of immunity from prosecution on charges brought by a special counsel involving his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss.

The justices put on hold the criminal case being pursued by Special Counsel Jack Smith and will review a lower court’s rejection of Trump’s claim of immunity from prosecution because he was president when he took actions aimed at reversing US President Joe Biden’s election victory over him.

Trump’s lawyers had requested a stay of that ruling, warning of dire consequences for the presidency absent such immunity.

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on February 6 ruled 3-0 against Trump’s immunity claim, rejecting his bid for “unbounded authority to commit crimes that would neutralise the most fundamental check on executive power – the recognition and implementation of election results.”

Trump, the first former president to be criminally prosecuted, is the frontrunner for the Republican nomination to challenge Biden, a Democrat, in the November 5 US election.

Special Counsel Jack Smith in August 2023 brought four federal criminal counts against Trump in the election subversion case. A March 4 trial date was postponed as Trump pressed his immunity claim, with no new date yet set. He has trials pending in three other criminal cases.

Trump has pleaded not guilty in all of them, seeking to portray them as politically motivated. His lawyers asked the Supreme Court on February 12.

In a filing to the Supreme Court, they said a months-long criminal trial would “radically disrupt” Trump’s ability to campaign against Biden. They also warned of dire consequences for future presidents if Trump’s prosecution is allowed such as partisan prosecutions, extortion, blackmail and more.

Smith’s charges accused Trump of conspiring to defraud the United States, obstructing the congressional certification of Biden’s electoral victory and conspiring to do so, and conspiring against right of Americans to vote.

Trump and his allies made false claims that the 2020 election was stolen and devised a plan to use false electors to thwart congressional certification of Biden’s victory. Trump also sought to pressure Vice President Mike Pence not to allow certification to go forward. Trump’s supporters attacked the Capitol in a bid to prevent the certification.

If Trump regains the presidency, he could use his powers to force an end to the prosecution or potentially pardon himself for any federal crimes.

Trump last October sought to have the charges dismissed based on his claim of immunity from criminal prosecution related to actions taken by a president while in office. US District Judge Tanya Chutkan rejected that claim on December 1, prompting Trump’s D.C. Circuit appeal.

During arguments in January, one of Trump’s lawyers told the three D.C. Circuit judges that even if a president sold pardons or military secrets or ordered a Navy commando unit to assassinate a political rival, he could not be criminally charged unless he is first impeached and convicted in Congress.

In its unanimous decision rejecting Trump’s immunity claim, the three-judge panel wrote: “We cannot accept that the office of the presidency places its former occupants above the law for all time thereafter.”

Topics: Donald Trump
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