Supreme Court to rule if Trump can be prosecuted in election interference case

28 February 2024, 22:34

Trump Capitol Riot Explainer. Picture: PA

The court will hear arguments in late April, with a decision likely no later than the end of June.

The US Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to decide whether former president Donald Trump can be prosecuted on charges he interfered with the 2020 election, and set a course for a quick resolution.

The justices’ order maintains a hold on preparations for a trial focused on Mr Trump’s efforts to overturn his election loss.

The court will hear arguments in late April, with a decision likely no later than the end of June.

The court 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 Supreme Court has previously held that presidents are immune from civil liability for official acts, and Mr Trump’s lawyers have for months argued that that protection should be extended to criminal prosecution as well.

Trump Capitol Riot
Rioters at the US Capitol in Washington (Julio Cortez/AP)

Lower courts have so far rejected Mr Trump’s novel claim that former presidents enjoy absolute immunity for actions that fall within their official job duties.

A panel of appellate judges in Washington ruled earlier in February that US District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who would preside over the election interference trial, was right to say that the case could proceed and that Mr Trump can be prosecuted for actions undertaken while in the White House and in the run-up to January 6, 2021, when a mob of his supporters stormed the US Capitol.

The case is separate from the high court’s consideration of 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 on February 8, the court seemed likely to side with Mr Trump. A decision could come at any time.

The high court also will hear an appeal in April from one of the more than 1,200 people charged over the Capitol riot.

The case could upend a charge prosecutors have brought against more than 300 people, including Mr Trump.

Special counsel Jack Smith’s election interference case in Washington is one of four prosecutions Mr Trump faces as he seeks to reclaim the White House.

His trial in New York is scheduled to begin on March 25 in connection with hush money payments made to porn actor Stormy Daniels.

Mr Trump also has been indicted in Florida on federal charges that he illegally retained classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate, a case that was also brought by Mr Smith and is set for trial in May.

He is also charged in state court in Georgia with scheming to subvert that state’s 2020 election. He has denied any wrongdoing.

By Press Association

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