Donald Trump has presidential immunity for official acts while in office, Supreme Court rules

Former US president Donald Trump (PA Archive)
Former US president Donald Trump (PA Archive)

Donald Trump does not have presidential immunity for all acts conducted while in office, the Supreme Court has ruled.

However Trump does have absolute immunity for ‘official acts’ undertaken while in office. What exactly constitutes an official act has not yet been clarified.

The ruling came as the court declined to quash the prosecution of Trump over the January 6 riot but did effectively delay a possible trial until after the election in November, when Trump may sweep back into power.

Part of the ruling, which was written by Chief Justice John Roberts, states: "The President enjoys no immunity for his unofficial acts, and not everything the President does is official.

“The President is not above the law. But under our system of separated powers, the President may not be prosecuted for exercising his core constitutional powers, and he is entitled to at least presumptive immunity from prosecution for his official acts.

“That immunity applies equally to all occupants of the Oval Office."

All three of the court’s liberal justices dissented from the decision, which will be seen as a boon to Trump and his campaign at a time when the former president faces several ongoing legal challenges.

It is likely the decision will cause further delays to the attempted prosecution of Trump over the January 6 riot at the Capitol.

The decision on Monday mean the charges Trump faces will not be dismissed but some actions closely related to his core duties as president may well be found to be off-limits to prosecutors.

Trump’s lawyer conceded in the oral argument in April that at least some of the allegations in the indictment, brought by special prosecutor Jack Smith, concern private conduct that would not be protected by any immunity defense.

Minutes after the decision was released, Trump wrote on social media: "BIG WIN FOR OUR CONSTITUTION AND DEMOCRACY. PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN!"