US Supreme Court will hear Trump presidential immunity appeal

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The US Supreme Court has agreed to take up an appeal over whether Donald Trump is immune from criminal prosecution for acts committed in office, putting another potentially blockbuster case involving the former president on the high court’s docket.

The court on Wednesday set oral arguments in the matter for the week of April 22.

The appeal stems from a unanimous ruling handed down earlier this month by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that barred Trump from using presidential immunity as a shield against an indictment filed by the Department of Justice that accused him of seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Trump’s lawyers subsequently asked the Supreme Court to put this order on hold while he appealed against the decision. They argued that a “claim that presidents have absolute immunity from criminal prosecution for their official acts presents a novel, complex, and momentous question that warrants careful consideration on appeal”.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said the appellate court’s order will remain on hold until it resolves the issue. That will further delay the DoJ’s election interference case against Trump. A trial in that matter was originally set to begin on March 4 but has been postponed.

Jack Smith, the DoJ special counsel overseeing federal probes targeting Trump, had warned the high court that a “delay in the resolution of these charges threatens to frustrate the public interest in a speedy and fair verdict”. 

The Supreme Court is poised to decide whether Trump can be barred from Colorado’s primary ballot in the presidential election, after a ruling from that state’s high court determined he was ineligible to hold office. It heard oral arguments in that case earlier this month.

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