Unanimous: DC circuit court strikes down Trump’s blanket immunity argument

February 2024 1 min read by The CEIR Team

A gavel in motion symbolizes a decisive rebuke of the former president's blanket immunity argument

A three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit has ruled that no president, including Donald Trump, has blanket immunity for any and all criminal acts they might commit while they are in office. If the decision stands, Trump will lose his most powerful defense in the pending trial for his attempts to remain in power after losing the presidential election in 2020.

It was a particularly decisive rebuke of the argument: a unanimous decision by three judges of what is considered to be the second highest US court, appointed by presidents from both major parties, all agreeing to deny the claim of blanket immunity. The decision stated that conferring such protections on the executive would collapse our system of separation of powers in the United States.

“We cannot accept former President Trump’s claim that a President has unbounded authority to commit crimes that would neutralize the most fundamental check on executive power — the recognition and implementation of election results,” the judges wrote.

The court did agree with Trump’s lawyers on one thing, said CEIR Executive Director David Becker—though not with the lawyers in the current case. “Three years ago, Trump’s lawyers in the second impeachment argued passionately that senators could safely acquit him in the Senate because he would still be liable criminally for any criminal acts he had committed,” he said. “The courts agreed with him there.” The ruling noted that impeachment is not a criminal but a political process, meaning any prosecution of Trump for similar charges would not constitute double jeopardy as the former president’s lawyers had claimed.

The court put this on a fast track for any appeal. Trump now has a few days to appeal to the Supreme Court, which is not obligated to take the case. If the Court declines, that will put Special Counsel Jack Smith’s January 6 criminal case against Donald Trump back on track to be heard sometime this spring or early summer.

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