US Supreme Court to hear Trump's immunity plea

World Thursday 25/April/2024 12:52 PM
By: DW
US Supreme Court to hear Trump's immunity plea

Washington: The top US court is set to hear arguments on Thursday from former President Donald Trump's legal team that he should be given immunity from criminal prosecution for any actions taken during his time in office.

However, Trump will not be present at the Supreme Court hearing, as he had hoped, due to another separate trial that he is facing in Manhattan.

Among his maze of legal problems, the top court's decision could have the biggest impact on Trump's third run for the White House later this year — as well as setting a precedent for future US presidents.

The federal case before the Supreme Court pertains to charges that the former president conspired to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, which ended with thousands of his supporters storming the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 while lawmakers met to certify President Joe Biden's victory.

Lower courts have rejected Trump's claims that he is immune from criminal prosecution because he was still president at the time.

The ruling of the nine leading justices — three of whom were appointed by Trump — could be decisive in the outcome of the former president's main legal challenges. However, if the Supreme Court justices do agree with the lower courts on the question of presidential immunity, their ruling may be too late for the trial to be held before the November elections.

Even if the trial goes ahead on time and Trump is convicted, some legal scholars say he would have the ability to pardon himself, if he wins the November election.

The Supreme Court's decision will, however, not impact the New York trial as this revolves around 34 state felony charges related to paying hush money in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election in an attempt to suppress potentially embarrassing stories from emerging.

As a state case, Trump would also not be able to pardon himself if elected president. The charges carry a maximum sentence of four years in prison, but it is not clear the judge would seek jail time.

The 77-year-old Republican presidential hopeful had asked for his presence not be required at Thursday's criminal trial in order so he could sit in on the Supreme Court hearing, but Judge Juan Merchan denied the request.

"Arguing before the Supreme Court is a big deal, and I can certainly appreciate why your client would want to be there, but a trial in New York Supreme Court is also a big deal," Merchan said last week.