A federal appeals court on Tuesday rejected former President Donald J. Trump’s claim that he was immune to charges of plotting to subvert the results of the 2020 election, ruling that he must go to trial on a criminal indictment accusing him of seeking to overturn his loss to President Biden.
The 3-0 ruling by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit handed Mr. Trump a significant defeat, but was unlikely to be the final word on his claims of executive immunity. Mr. Trump is expected to continue his appeal to the Supreme Court — possibly with an intermediate request to the full appeals court.
Still, the panel’s 57-page ruling signaled an important moment in American jurisprudence, answering a question that had never been addressed by an appeals court: Can former presidents escape being held accountable by the criminal justice system for things they did while in office?
The question is novel because no former president until Mr. Trump had been indicted, so there was never an opportunity for a defendant to make — and courts to consider — the sweeping claim of executive immunity that he has put forward.