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Supreme Court postpones question of Trump’s immunity

Can former US President Trump be held criminally accountable for his actions in office? Special Counsel Smith hoped the Supreme Court would resolve this issue quickly. But nothing will come of it now.

Former US President Donald Trump is playing for time in the indictment against him for attempted election fraud – and can now claim success. The US Supreme Court announced that it would not address the question of Trump’s immunity for the time being.

This means that the date planned for the beginning of March for the election fraud trial against Trump in the US capital Washington will no longer be possible. The decision is a major blow to special counsel Jack Smith, who has indicted Trump over his attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Trump claims immunity

Meanwhile, new audio has emerged that purports to show how Trump put pressure on election workers after the election. Special Counsel Smith asked the Supreme Court to quickly clarify whether Trump can be prosecuted at the federal level for his behavior after the election three years ago – or whether he is protected by his immunity as president.

Trump supporters stormed the parliament building in Washington on January 6, 2021. Congress met there to formally confirm Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election. Trump had previously incited his supporters during a speech. As a result of the riots, five people died.

Special Investigator wanted Court of Appeals evade

Trump’s lawyers argued that the Republican could not be legally prosecuted for actions that were part of his duties as president. However, the judge responsible in the proceedings rejected a corresponding application. Trump’s team appealed against this decision – which means it is now up to an appeals court.

But special counsel Smith chose an unusual path: He wanted to bypass the appeals court and went directly to the Supreme Court with a request to resolve the issue quickly: “This case involves issues of exceptional national importance.” The Supreme Court now rejected his application without giving reasons.

This means that the appeal has to make its way through the courts, which can take a long time. An appeals court hearing is scheduled for Jan. 9.

Trump is playing for time

It is expected that the case will end up back in the Supreme Court following the court’s decision. It would be the first time that the US Supreme Court has addressed the question of whether ex-presidents enjoy immunity from federal prosecution. It is therefore unlikely that the trial against Trump will begin in Washington at the beginning of March, as we have to wait for the highest court decision.

Trump, who is still facing further criminal charges, wants to move into the White House again for the Republicans. The 77-year-old is leading by far in internal party polls – the primaries for the candidacy begin in a few weeks. So far everything points to a new edition of the election campaign between Trump and incumbent President Joe Biden. Trump is hoping to delay the trials against him until after the election. If he wins, he could ask his attorney general to end the federal investigation against him.

New audio material is said to further incriminate Trump

At the same time, a report in the newspaper “Detroit News” caused a stir in the USA. The newspaper wrote about an audio recording of Trump from November 2020, which it said it had. In this, Trump is said to have pressured two election officials not to confirm the election results for an important district in the US state of Michigan.

Trump spokesman Steven Cheung said in response to the report that “all actions taken by President Trump were in fulfillment of his duty as President of the United States to faithfully uphold the law and ensure the integrity of the election,” according to US media. .

Trump’s alleged call fits into the Republican’s pattern at the time of urging officials, election workers and politicians not to accept the results of the presidential election. Trump lost the election to Biden. To this day he does not acknowledge his defeat and spreads the lie that the election was “stolen”.

Ralf Borchard, ARD Washington, tagesschau, December 23rd, 2023 5:55 a.m

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