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US Supreme Court rules on Trump immunity

The former president’s “official conduct” is protected from prosecution, the justices said

American presidents have “absolute immunity” for their official actions, the US Supreme Court ruled on Monday, addressing a series of charges against former President Donald Trump.

Federal prosecutors have charged Trump with four criminal counts related to the 2020 presidential election, alleging that he “conspired” to overturn the results by spreading “knowingly false claims” of fraud to obstruct the collection, counting, and certification of the results.

“Under our constitutional structure of separated powers, the nature of Presidential power entitles a former President to absolute immunity from criminal prosecution for actions within his conclusive and preclusive constitutional authority,” the court said in a 6-3 decision. “And he is entitled to at least presumptive immunity from prosecution for all his official acts. There is no immunity for unofficial acts.”

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion, which saw the six conservative-leaning justices opposed by the three liberal ones.

The decision favors the former president in terms of his tweets to the American public on January 6 and conversations with then-Vice President Mike Pence about his presiding over the certification of election results, as both of those clearly fell within the scope of official duties.

However, the verdict allows lower courts to hold evidentiary hearings to determine which actions by Trump may have been unofficial, such as when he contacted state and local election officials about the 2020 vote.

“In dividing official from unofficial conduct, courts may not inquire into the President’s motives,” the court warned.

“The President is not above the law. But under our system of separated powers, the President may not be prosecuted for exercising his core constitutional powers, and he is entitled to at least presumptive immunity from prosecution for his official acts,” said the ruling.

The Supreme Court saved the immunity case for the last day of its term. The long-awaited decision puts a dent in the plans for special counsel Jack Smith to prosecute Trump in the federal court in Washington, DC before the November election.

July 01, 2024 at 08:25PM

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