Top US court to decide if Donald Trump can be prosecuted over Capitol riot

By John Mercury March 1, 2024

The US Supreme Court has said it will decide on whether Donald Trump can be prosecuted for alleged interference with the 2020 election.

Under the court’s schedule, issued on Wednesday, it will start to hear the case in late April, with a decision likely no later than the end of June.

The court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority, said in an unsigned statement that it will consider “whether and if so to what extent does a former president enjoy presidential immunity from criminal prosecution for conduct alleged to involve official acts during his tenure in office”.

The court, three of whose nine members were appointed by Mr Trump, 77, has previously said presidents are immune from civil liability for official acts.

But Mr Trump, the odds-on favourite to be the Republican Party’s nominee for this year’s ballot, has claimed that he should also be protected from criminal prosecution.

Analysis: The question of Donald Trump’s immunity from prosecution is a pivotal for him and the nation

So far, his theory that former presidents enjoy absolute immunity for any official actions has been rejected by lower courts.

Earlier this month, a US court of appeals panel backed district Judge Tanya Chutkan’s decision to proceed with the case.

It ruled Mr Trump can be prosecuted for what he did in the White House and in the run-up to the riots of 6 January 2021, when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol.

Supreme Court justices will also hear Mr Trump’s appeal to remain on the presidential ballot despite attempts to kick him off because of his efforts following his election loss in 2020.

During arguments earlier this month, the court seemed likely to side with Mr Trump and a decision in that case could come any time.

The election interference case, brought by special counsel Jack Smith, is one of four prosecutions Mr Trump faces as he seeks to reclaim the White House.

Mr Trump is set to go on trial in New York next month over alleged hush money payments made to porn actor Stormy Daniels.

Stormy Daniels, seen here in January, received a $130,000 payment from Trump's lawyer Pic: AP/DeeCee Carter/MediaPunch /IPX
Stormy Daniels. Pic: AP/DeeCee Carter/MediaPunch /IPX

He has also been charged with retaining classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate, a case that was also brought by Smith and is set for trial in May.

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In Georgia, he has been charged in state court with plotting to subvert that state’s 2020 election.

Mr Trump has pleaded not guilty in all the cases, frequently referring to them as political “witch hunts”.

Presuming Mr Trump, as expected, wins the Republican nomination to take on Joe Biden in November, the timetable means that he’ll be fighting court cases while in the thick of an election campaign.

Should he be nominated and win the White House, he could try to have any federal cases against him dismissed.


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