Factbox-US Supreme Court's immunity ruling could exclude evidence against Trump

FILE PHOTO: Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump's campaign rally in Grand Rapids

(Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on presidential immunity tossed out one plank of the federal criminal case involving former President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss and could exclude other aspects of the case, too.

Here is a look at how Monday's ruling could affect the evidence available to prosecutors.


The Supreme Court's ruling bars prosecutors from presenting evidence that Trump sought to enlist officials at the U.S. Justice Department in his efforts to remain in power despite losing the election to Joe Biden.

The four-count indictment obtained by Special Counsel Jack Smith in August 2023 alleges that Trump sought to replace the acting U.S. attorney general with another official who had vowed to use the Justice Department to support attempts to thwart congressional certification of Biden's election victory.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which accuse him of leading a multi-pronged conspiracy to try to stay in power.

The Supreme Court ruling found that Trump is absolutely immune from charges involving his communication with Justice Department officials because the actions related to his "core" presidential authority under the U.S. Constitution.


The indictment also alleges that Trump attempted to convince then-Vice President Mike Pence to use his role overseeing the congressional certification process to block Biden's victory. Pence refused.

The court found that communications between Trump and Pence would presumptively be covered by presidential immunity, excluding them from the case. But prosecutors still have the opportunity to argue that prosecuting Trump over those discussions would not implicate the president's authority because the president plays no role in the election certification process.

It will be up to the trial judge, Tanya Chutkan, to make an initial decision, with potential appeals after that depending on what she concludes.


Prosecutors alleged that Trump and his allies arranged slates of pro-Trump presidential electors in seven battleground states Trump lost in a bid to block congressional certification of Biden's victory, which involved counting legitimate electors from the various states. The so-called fake electors were designed to give Pence a pretext to reject votes for Biden when Congress convened for the certification of the election outcome on Jan. 6, 2021, according to the indictment.

The Supreme Court instructed Chutkan to decide which of Trump's actions in this area were official, and deserving of protection, and which were private conduct undeserving of immunity.


The indictment alleges that Trump invited his supporters to gather in Washington on the day of the certification vote and exhorted them to march on the U.S. Capitol in a last-ditch attempt to stop the election certification. Some of his supporters then violently breached the Capitol, attacking police and forcing lawmakers to flee.

Prosecutors want to introduce Trump's social media posts and his speech to supporters ahead of the riot as evidence in the case.

The Supreme Court directed Chutkan to examine the context of Trump's remarks to determine if they were made in his official capacity and are covered by immunity.

(Compiled by Andrew Goudsward; Editing by Will Dunham)