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Donald Trump announced that he will run for president in 2024.

Does becoming a Presidential Candidate Confer any immunity from litigation?

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  • Everybody can declare it's candidacy, so this doesn't really make sense. Becoming president gives certain immunity.
    – PMF
    Nov 16, 2022 at 6:15
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    @PMF I can see an argument that prosecuting a political candidate is interference in the political process by the executive. Courts are pretty good at dealing with questions like "is this a serious candidacy, or an attempt to avoid prosecution?", so that shouldn't be a problem. (I don't know the answer to the question btw.) Nov 16, 2022 at 8:32
  • In the current situation, some of the pending litigation bears directly on the eligibility of the former president for any elected office.
    – DJohnM
    Nov 17, 2022 at 8:41

2 Answers 2

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A Presidential candidate has no legal immunity for litigation or prosecution different from that of any other political candidate.

The First Amendment provides significant protections for expressive conduct of a candidate for political office.

Presidential candidates do have a few special privileges, most notably, secret service protection and at a late stage, access to certain intelligence briefings not available to the general public.

Judges and prosecutors often seek to avoid the appearance of impropriety interfering with a Presidential election campaign and this may influence, for example, the scheduling of proceeding against a candidate. But there is no actual immunity from either criminal or civil liability for a Presidential candidate that is different from anyone else.

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The Department of Justice and various prosecutors usually refrain from actions that would give the appearance of interfering with the electoral process. Part of that is the unofficial 60-day rule, which protects significant political figures from some action in the days before an election.

Having declared himself a candidate, ex-President Trump will probably claim that any and all actions against him are politicially motivated. This might slow some legal actions, as the DOJ makes sure that only "bulletproof" cases go forward.

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  • Wouldn't, and didn't, Trump regularly claim that actions against him were politically motivated before officially running?
    – Someone
    Nov 16, 2022 at 17:52
  • @Someone, yes. You might be on to a pattern there. Which does not excuse the DOJ from following best practice regarding political candidates, even ex-Presidents.
    – o.m.
    Nov 16, 2022 at 18:06

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