Former President Donald Trump "respectfully disagrees" with Tuesday's three-judge D.C. Circuit panel ruling presidential immunity ends once leaving office, vowing an appeal "to safeguard the presidency and the Constitution."
"If immunity is not granted to a president, every future president who leaves office will be immediately indicted by the opposing party," Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung wrote in a statement immediately after the decision was released.
"Without complete immunity, a president of the United States would not be able to properly function!"
Trump has long maintained his 2020 election challenge was a function of his presidency, while he was in office, and an effort to investigate election integrity and not overturn the presidential election, as special counsel Jack Smith's Washington, D.C., indictment alleged.
"Deranged Jack Smith's prosecution of President Trump for his presidential, official acts is unconstitutional under the doctrine of Presidential Immunity and the Separation of Powers," Cheung's statement continued. "Prosecuting a president for official acts violates the Constitution and threatens the bedrock of our republic.
"President Trump respectfully disagrees with the D.C. Circuit's decision and will appeal it in order to safeguard the Presidency and the Constitution."
A federal appeals panel ruled Tuesday that Trump can face trial for his efforts to challenge the 2020 election under the allegations of election fraud.
Trump himself posted a statement to Truth Social after the ruling, urging "full immunity" for a president, calling Tuesday's decision "nation-destroying" and "terribly" injuring to future presidents.
"A president of the United States must have full immunity in order to properly function and do what has to be done for the good of our country," Trump wrote. "A nation-destroying ruling like this cannot be allowed to stand. If not overturned, as it should be, this decision would terribly injure not only the presidency, but the life, breath, and success of our country.
"A president will be afraid to act for fear of the opposite party's vicious retribution after leaving office. I know from personal experience because I am going through it right now. It will become a political weapon used for election interference.
"Even our elections will be corrupted and under siege. So bad, and so dangerous for our Nation. SAVE PRESIDENTIAL IMMUNITY!"
The ruling Tuesday gave Trump's legal team until just Feb. 12 to appeal or request a stay before the Supreme Court, potentially allowing Judge Tanya Chutkan to go forward with her trial. It had originally been planned to begin March 4, but that date was suspended amid appeal.
"For the purpose of this criminal case, former President Trump has become citizen Trump, with all of the defenses of any other criminal defendant," Tuesday's ruling read. "But any executive immunity that may have protected him while he served as President no longer protects him against this prosecution."
The Supreme Court has held that presidents are immune from civil liability for official acts, and Trump's lawyers have for months argued that protection should be extended to criminal prosecution as well.
The case was argued before Judges Florence Pan and J. Michelle Childs, appointees of Biden, a Democrat, and Karen LeCraft Henderson, who was named to the bench by President George H.W. Bush, a Republican.
The judges made clear their skepticism of Trump's claims during arguments last month, when they peppered his lawyer with tough questions and posed a series of extreme hypotheticals as a way to test his legal theory of immunity — including whether a president who directed Navy commandos to assassinate a political rival could be prosecuted.
Trump's lawyer, D. John Sauer, answered yes — but only if a president had first been impeached and convicted by Congress. That view was in keeping with the team's position that the Constitution did not permit the prosecution of ex-presidents who had been impeached but then acquitted, like Trump.
The case in Washington is one of four criminal prosecutions Trump faces as he seeks to reclaim the White House this year. He faces federal charges in Florida that he illegally retained classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate, a case that was also brought by Smith and is set for trial in May.
He is also charged in state court in Georgia for challenging the 2020 election, and in New York in connection with hush-money payments made to porn actor Stormy Daniels. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
Eric Mack ✉
Eric Mack has been a writer and editor at Newsmax since 2016. He is a 1998 Syracuse University journalism graduate and a New York Press Association award-winning writer.
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