A Federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday that Donald Trump does not have immunity from charges that he plotted to overturn his 2020 election defeat, bringing the former U.S. president a step closer to an unprecedented criminal trial.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected Trump’s claim that he cannot be prosecuted because the allegations relate to his official responsibilities as president.
“We cannot accept that the office of the Presidency places its former occupants above the law for all time thereafter,” the unanimous panel wrote.
The court concluded that any “executive immunity” that may have shielded Trump from criminal charges while he served as president “no longer protects him against this prosecution.”
The ruling, which Trump is almost certain to appeal, rebuffs his attempt to avoid a trial on charges that he undermined American democracy and the transfer of power, even as he consolidates his position as the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination.
The case will remain paused until at least Feb. 12 to give Trump time to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Trump’s lawyers argued that former presidents were entitled to sweeping legal protections and could not be criminally prosecuted for official actions unless first impeached by the House of Representatives and removed from office by the Senate.
Trump was impeached twice by the House, but each time Senate Republicans cast sufficient votes to acquit him of the charges.