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A court rejects Donald Trump’s immunity claim.

Daniel E. Slotnik

Image

Former President Donald J. Trump in a blue suit. He is walking between blue curtains being held open for him.
Former President Donald Trump is expected to continue his appeal to the Supreme Court.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

A federal appeals court denied former President Donald Trump’s claim that he was immune from prosecution for plotting to overturn the 2020 U.S. election.

The unanimous ruling from a three-judge panel was unlikely to be the final word on the issue: Trump, the likely Republican presidential nominee, is expected to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Still, the ruling signaled an important moment in American law, answering a question that had never been addressed by an appeals court: Can former presidents escape being held accountable by the criminal justice system for things they did while in office?

The court ruled that Trump was subject to federal criminal law, and would have to stand trial, like any other American.

“We cannot accept that the office of the presidency places its former occupants above the law for all time thereafter,” the three judges wrote.

What’s next: If the Supreme Court declines to hear the case, or decides it quickly, a trial could begin before the November election. But if the justices take their time, a trial might not begin until after the election. If Trump returns to the White House, he could ask the Justice Department to dismiss the case, or try to pardon himself.


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