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DC Circuit Court rules US Presidents not immune from criminal prosecutions

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on February 6 ruled that United States Presidents are not immune from prosecutions for decisions and actions made during their presidency stating, “we cannot accept that the office of the Presidency places its former occupants above the law for all time thereafter.”

This is the latest setback for the 45th President of the United States, Donald J Trump, in his D.C. case where Special Counsel Jack Smith has charged him with conspiring to overturn the 2020 election. Trump’s campaign spokesman in a statement shared that the decision by the court will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court by the Feb 12 deadline.

Presidents prosecutions
The 45th President Donald J Trump speaking at his campaign’s post-caucus election party in Des Moines, Iowa, on January 15, 2024. Snapshot from Right Side Broadcasting Network live feed.

“If immunity is not granted to a President, every future President who leaves office will be immediately indicted by the opposing party,” Steven Cheung, Trump Campaign Spokesman released on Tuesday’s court ruling. Without complete immunity, a President of the United States would not be able to properly function! 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. Prosecuting a President for official acts violates the Constitution and threatens the bedrock of our Republic. President Trump respectfully disagrees with the DC Circuit’s decision and will appeal it in order to safeguard the Presidency and the Constitution.”

Trump took to his social media platform, Truth Social, stating that the ruling will neuter the Office of the President.

“Without Presidential Immunity, the Presidency will lose its power and prestige, and under some Leaders, have no power at all. The Presidency will be consumed by the other Branches of Government. THAT IS NOT WHAT OUR FOUNDERS WANTED,” Trump posted on Truth Social.

Presidents prosecutions

Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-WA07) praised the court’s decision saying, “no one is above the law.”

“Three years ago, I joined other members of Congress in suing Trump for inciting an insurrection on January 6,” wrote Jayapal on X. “This ruling continues to show that Trump can and must be held accountable for his attack on our democracy. No one is above the law.”

The D.C. court’s decision now opens the doors to former presidents being indicted for war crimes and violations against the US Constitution. If presidents are not immune in their role, this may open the door for removing immunity of all elected officials—governors, mayors, sheriffs, judges, etc.

“The precedent set today by the D.C. Circuit’s decision means that future presidents who leave office will likely face politicized prosecutions by the opposing party,” Vice Presidential hopeful Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY21) posted to X. “The President of the United States must have immunity, like Members of Congress and federal judges, which is necessary for any presidency to function properly. I fully support President Trump’s efforts to appeal this unconstitutional ruling to the Supreme Court, where I expect a thoughtful decision to overturn this dangerous precedent.”

barack obama
Barack Obama. Photo by Pete Souza.

For example, President Barack Obama may now be criminally charged with the murder of U.S. citizen Abdulrahman Anwar al-Awlaki in a 2011 drone strike. Also, he evaded Congress to wage a war in Libya in 2011 without authorization which has now left the country as a hub for the slave trade in Africa.

The Obama Administration in 2009 bullied Chrysler’s secured creditors—who were entitled to “absolute priority”—into accepting 30 cents on the dollar, while junior creditors such as labor unions received much more. This subversion of creditor rights violates not just bankruptcy law, but also the Constitution’s Takings and Due Process Clauses.

President Obama was also said to be fully aware of and authorized the political profiling by the IRS in 2010 against PACs critical of his administration.

In 2012, President Obama directed the Department of Homeland Security to issue work and residence permits (Deferred Action to Childhood Arrivals) to the so‐​called Dreamers. Then, after the 2014 midterms, Obama decided that he had been wrong in saying he couldn’t give temporary legal status to illegal immigrants.

george bush
George Bush

President Goerge W. Bush may now be charged with crimes related to the Iraq War and the case he made to justify the war—e.g. weapons of mass destruction. Bush also provided immunity from prosecution for criminal acts by contractors. Also, under the Bush authorized the torture of captives in the war on terror. ‘

President Bill Clinton waged war in Kosovo without authorization by Congress. This opens the door for him to now be charged with war crimes.

President Franklin D Roosevelt, and his descendants, can now be held liable for the 1942 authorization to forcibly deport Americans of Japanese, German, and Italian ancestry to prison camps.

President Andrew Jackson defied a Supreme Court ruling and allowed the State of Georgia to confiscate and sell lands guaranteed by treaty to the Cherokee Nation.

President Abraham Lincoln violated the constitution by preventing the Maryland State Legislature from assembling—in order to keep the State of Maryland from seceding and joining the Confederacy.

Now even former presidents such as Woodrow Wilson (D), and perhaps their descendants, may be liable for the enforcement of Jim Crow laws and for enforcing slavery throughout the U.S.

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