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How Will D.C. Trump Trial Judge Deal With Immunity Ruling?

The Supreme Court's decision regarding presidential immunity will soon return to the judge overseeing the originating case — the criminal prosecution of Donald Trump for allegedly conspiring to overturn the 2020 election. Judge Tanya Chutkan in Washington, D.C., must sort through the 45-page indictment, making decisions about which of its many allegations can move forward and which will have to be tossed out. The Supreme Court held that former presidents are completely protected against accusations arising from their core constitutional duties, but that they can face prosecution for unofficial acts while in the White House. The court said that Trump is presumptively immune from prosecution for all official acts, but that prosecutors can overcome that presumption if they can show that filing charges related to official acts would not result in any intrusions on “the authority and functions of the executive branch," reports the New York Times.

The indictment filed by special counsel Jack Smith accused the former president of attempts to subvert the last election. Prosecutors say Trump asked two top officials in his Justice Department — Jeffrey A. Rosen, the acting attorney general, and Richard P. Donoghue, Rosen’s deputy — to conduct sham investigations to validate Trump’s claims of fraud. When the two refused and told him that there was no evidence of fraud, Trump sought to replace them with a loyalist, Jeffrey Clark, who offered to give Trump what he wanted. The Supreme Court said Trump was immune to the charges based on those communications because his discussions with the Justice Department, even about phony investigations, were part of his core constitutional duties. The court’s decision means that portion of the indictment is virtually certain to be thrown out. The court’s ruling also probably means that Smith will not be able to rely on testimony from any department officials, including Rosen and Donoghue.


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