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Trump challenges legal fate, asserts immunity in election conspiracy trial

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Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States, is set to appear in federal court on Tuesday, contending that as a former president, he should be shielded from prosecution over allegations of conspiring to overturn the 2020 election.

The front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination faces trial on March 4 in a Washington courtroom located just blocks away from the US Capitol, which was infamously stormed by his supporters on January 6, 2021.

Trump’s legal team is deploying a novel argument, asserting “absolute immunity” for a former president, contending that he cannot be prosecuted for actions undertaken while in the White House. However, US District Judge Tanya Chutkan, presiding over the case, rejected this immunity claim, stating that an ex-president does not possess a “lifelong ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ pass.”

In a significant development, a three-judge panel for the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit is scheduled to hear oral arguments on Trump’s appeal against the immunity denial.

The panel comprises judges appointed by both Democratic President Joe Biden and Republican President George H.W. Bush.

Legal experts, including Derek Muller from the University of Notre Dame, express skepticism about Trump’s likelihood of success in the immunity case, emphasizing the broad nature of the claims made by the former president.

In a provocative statement on his Truth Social platform, Trump declared his intention to attend the hearing, cautioning that a rejection of his immunity defense might open the door to potential indictments against Biden if he returns to power.

Special Counsel Jack Smith, who initiated the election conspiracy case against Trump, sought an expedited review by the US Supreme Court on the immunity claim, characterizing the case as posing a “fundamental question at the heart of our democracy.”

Despite efforts by Trump’s legal team to delay the trial until after the November 2024 election, widely anticipated as a rematch between Trump and Biden, the Supreme Court, with a conservative majority, denied an immediate hearing on the case.

As Trump navigates legal challenges on multiple fronts, the DC appeals court’s forthcoming decision is expected to carry significant implications, potentially leading the case to the nation’s highest court.

Last week, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Trump’s appeal in a separate case involving his exclusion from Colorado’s presidential primary ballot.

The legal saga continues for Trump, who was indicted in Washington in August on charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Similar election-related charges in Georgia, where he has also claimed immunity, and an indictment in Florida for mishandling top-secret documents add to the complex legal landscape surrounding the former president.

Despite being impeached by the House of Representatives, Trump was acquitted by the Senate following the Capitol attack.

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