Donald Trump does NOT have absolute immunity from federal charges of trying to ... trends now
In a first-of-its-kind ruling, a US federal judge has decided that former President Donald Trump does not have immunity from criminal charges over actions he took while in office.
The ruling on Friday night came as a blow to Trump, blocking his bid to toss out charges brought in Washington DC by Special Counsel Jack Smith accusing him of unlawfully trying to overturn his 2020 election loss.
US District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is overseeing the case, found no legal basis for concluding that presidents cannot face criminal charges once they are no longer in office.
She wrote in the ruling: 'Whatever immunities a sitting president may enjoy, the United States has only one chief executive at a time, and that position does not confer a lifelong 'get-out-of-jail-free' pass.'
Separately, a three-judge federal appeals panel on Friday also rejected Trump's sweeping claims that presidential immunity shields him from liability in lawsuits accusing him of inciting the mob that attacked the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
A US federal judge has decided that former President Donald Trump does not have immunity from criminal charges over actions he took while in office
US District Judge Tanya Chutkan (above) found no legal basis for concluding that presidents cannot face criminal charges once they are no longer in office
In the criminal case, Judge Chutkan offered a sweeping condemnation of Trump's legal arguments in a 48-page memorandum, noting that he is 'charged with attempting to usurp the reins of government'.
Because Trump is the first current or former US president to face criminal charges, Chutkan's ruling is the first by a US court affirming that presidents can be charged with crimes like any other citizen.
The judge also rejected Trump's central argument that the charges violate his free speech rights under the US Constitution's First Amendment.
Trump's lawyers had argued that the case by Smith 'attempts to criminalize core political speech and political advocacy.'
Chutkan's memo flatly dismissed that argument, noting that 'many long established' criminal laws criminalize speech used in the commission of crimes, including 'fraud, bribery, perjury, extortion, threats, incitement, solicitation, and blackmail.'
Chutkan's ruling in DC brings Trump a step closer to facing a jury on charges that he plotted to interfere in the counting of electoral votes and obstruct congressional certification of Joe Biden's victory.
Trump has pleaded not guilty and accused prosecutors of attempting to damage his campaign.
The trial is scheduled to begin in March, but Trump can immediately appeal the ruling, which potentially could delay the trial while an appeals court and potentially the Supreme Court weigh the issue.
Trump has additional pending legal motions to dismiss the case based on other claims including that his conduct as alleged by prosecutors does not fit the charges they brought.
In addition to the case being pursued by Smith, Trump also faces state criminal charges in Georgia related to his actions seeking to undo his 2020 defeat and two other