Judge rejects Trump immunity claim in federal 2020 election case
Donald Trump does not have immunity from criminal charges for actions he took as president, a U.S. judge ruled on Friday, rejecting his bid to toss out the case brought by Special Counsel Jack Smith accusing him of unlawfully trying to overturn his 2020 election loss.
U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan found no legal basis for concluding that presidents cannot face criminal charges once they are no longer in office. Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic President Joe Biden in the 2024 U.S. election, served from 2017 to 2021.
Chutkan wrote in her 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."
Because Trump is the first current or former U.S. president to face criminal charges, Chutkan's ruling is the first by a U.S. court affirming that presidents can be charged with crimes like any other citizen.
The judge also rejected Trump's argument that the charges violate his free speech rights under the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment. Trump's lawyers had argued that the case by Smith "attempts to criminalize core political speech and political advocacy."