In Trump hearing, SCOTUS majority suggests presidents may have some criminal immunity

Not all of the justices agreed, however -- and a decision is expected by June.

Last Updated: April 25, 2024, 5:19 PM EDT

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Thursday on whether former President Donald Trump can be criminally prosecuted over his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss.

The justices grappled with the monumental question of if -- and if so, to what extent -- former presidents enjoy immunity for conduct alleged to involve official acts during their time in office.

Trump claims "absolute" protection for what he calls official acts, though he denies all wrongdoing. The high court divided over this, but most of the conservative-leaning justices in the majority seemed open to some version of it while still excluding a president's "private" conduct.

The high court's ruling will determine if Trump stands trial before the November election on four charges brought by special counsel Jack Smith, including conspiracy to defraud the United States. A decision is expected by June.

Latest headlines:

Here are highlights from the hearing.
Apr 25, 2024, 5:19 PM EDT

See court sketches from inside court

The Supreme Court notably does not allow cameras inside its courtroom during arguments, meaning that sketch artists provide the only visual representation of some of the country's most defining legal moments.

Here are three sketches from the Trump arguments on Thursday -- of the justices and the attorneys for each side.

PHOTO: Supreme Court Justices during arguments in Washington, April 25, 2024.
This artist sketch depicts, from left, Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett, Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts, Associate Justice Samuel Alito, Associate Justice Elena Kagan, Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson during arguments in Washington, Thursday, April 25, 2024.
Dana Verkouteren/AP

This artist sketch depicts Michael Dreeben, counselor to Special Counsel Jack Smith as he argues before the Supreme Court in Washington, Apr. 25, 2024.
Dana Verkouteren/AP

The artist sketch depicts former President Donald Trump's attorney John Sauer speaking before the Supreme Court in Washington, Apr. 25, 2024.
Dana Verkouteren/AP

Apr 25, 2024, 5:19 PM EDT

'Quite amazing. The justices were on their game,' Trump says

Trump reacted to the arguments before the justices later on Thursday afternoon after he left court for the day amid his hush money trial in New York, to which he has pleaded not guilty.

“I think it was made clear, I hope it was made clear, that a president has to have immunity," he said, repeating a familiar talking point. "You don't have a president -- or at most you could say it would be a ceremonial president. That's not what the founders had in mind.”

He continued, ”We want presidents that can get things done and bring people together. So I heard the meeting was quite amazing. Quite amazing. The justices were on their game.”

Trump did not answer shouted questions from the press.

-ABC News' Kelsey Walsh, Mike Pappano and Jianna Cousin

Apr 25, 2024, 4:23 PM EDT

5 takeaways: Hypotheticals dominate, conservatives and liberals raise different worries and more

As various justices themselves acknowledged, they could potentially reshape the contours of presidential power when they rule on Trump's case.

Click here to read five takeaways from the historic arguments.

Apr 25, 2024, 4:23 PM EDT

10 key moments from the arguments

The oral arguments, stretching nearly three hours and with demonstrators gathered outside, included several notable and important exchanges.

Here are 10 of the key moments -- including discussion of potential self-pardons, Franklin D. Roosevelt and more.

Read more here.

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