A federal judge has denied former US President Donald Trump‘s request to dismiss allegations of election tampering based on “presidential immunity.”
Trump’s lawyers maintained that his attempts to reject the 2020 election results were within his presidential powers.
However, Judge Tanya Chutkan found no legal foundation for determining that presidents cannot face criminal charges once they leave office.
Trump is accused of attempting to illegally overturn his electoral defeat.
“Whatever immunities a sitting president may enjoy, the United States has only one chief executive at a time,” Judge Chutkan wrote late on Friday.
“That position does not confer a lifelong ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ pass.”
Furthermore, she added that Mr. Trump’s presidency “did not bestow on him the divine right of kings to evade the criminal accountability that governs his fellow citizens.”
The decision is the first by a US court to confirm that presidents can be tried in the same way as any other citizen. Mr. Trump is the first current or former president of the United States to face criminal charges.
Following the decision, the ex-President’s campaign official informed reporters that “the corrupt leftists will fail, and Trump will keep fighting for America and Americans, including by challenging these wrongful decisions in higher courts.”
The ex-President is charged with four criminal offenses, including conspiracy to defraud the United States, in connection with his alleged efforts to overturn his loss in the 2020 presidential election.
He has entered a not guilty plea. The trial in Washington, DC, is set to begin in March, in the midst of Special Counsel Jack Smith’s campaign for President of the United States next year.
It is unclear whether the former US president’s legal team would appeal the current verdict, which is one of numerous court losses in the case that the former president has recently encountered.
Earlier this week, Judge Chutkan also denied the former US president’s request for records pertaining to the congressional inquiry into the 2021 US Capitol violence.
The Obama appointee referred to the attempt as a “fishing expedition” in an opinion filed on November 27.
Judge Chutkan had already issued a gag order and dismissed a plea to delete words from the indictment that the ex-President’s lawyers think could bias a jury against him during the trial.
The federal case in Washington, DC, is one of several in which the former president is currently involved.
He is also facing criminal charges for handling classified data and allegedly falsifying accounting-related hush money.
The ex-President, his family, and Trump Organization officials are facing a civil fraud trial in his home state of New York.
The case’s court has already decided that the Trump Organization committed fraud.
Prosecutors are seeking a $250 million (£202 million) fine and commercial limitations on the Trump family and the Trump Organization during the trial.