Trump Urges Appeals Court to Dismiss Election Case Over Immunity
Donald Trump’s lawyers have asked an appeals court to dismiss an indictment accusing the former president of plotting to overturn the 2020 election by arguing he had immunity due to the actions being taken while he was in office. Trump’s lawyers have presented a case for executive immunity, stating that the judicial branch cannot hold a president accountable for official acts. The Supreme Court has declined to hear the case before the appeals court, and the outcome of the issue could significantly affect the viability of the election interference case and the timeline of any potential trial.
Trump Lawyers Appeal Federal Indictment on 2020 Election Plot
Lawyers for ex-President Donald J. Trump have appealed to a Washington court to discard a federal indictment accusing him of aiming to overturn the 2020 election. They claim that Trump is immune to these charges, as they stem from actions taken during his presidency.
The appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit continues a pivotal battle between Trump and special counsel, Jack Smith, concerning whether former presidents possess immunity from election interference charges. The Supreme Court declined Smith’s request to intervene ahead of the appeals court.
Trump’s lawyer, D. John Sauer, argued in a 55-page brief that the Constitution prevents judges from holding presidents accountable for actions carried out while in office. “The judicial branch cannot sit in judgment over a president’s official acts,” he wrote.
Trump’s Immunity Contested in Appeal
When appealing for the dismissal of the election interference case, Trump’s lawyers sought to challenge Smith’s indictment. Prosecutors argue that Trump broke the law by trying to coerce state lawmakers and pressure Justice Department officials to endorse his claims of election fraud.
Trump’s lawyers, however, seek to portray these actions as attempts to protect the integrity of the election process.
Debate Over Executive Immunity
In his briefing to the appeals court, Sauer stated that executive immunity must exist, considering that no president or former president had ever faced criminal charges prior to Trump. He criticized trial judge, Tanya S. Chutkan, for several alleged errors when she rejected Trump’s claims of immunity.
Judges Hearing the Immunity Case
The immunity case is being heard by Judges Karen L. Henderson (appointed by President George H.W. Bush), Florence Y. Pan and J. Michelle Childs (both appointed by President Biden). The court intends to hold oral arguments on January 9.
The court’s speedy approach potentially impacts the trial’s current start date of March 4. A delay in the trial could coincide with Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign and turn the proceedings into a media spectacle.
Impact on Trump’s Other Criminal Cases
Trump’s other criminal cases may also be impacted by the election subversion trial timetable. He faces charges related to hush money payments prior to the 2016 election, possessing classified documents post-presidency, and tampering with Georgia’s election.
Prosecutors have sought to keep the trial on schedule. They made a request to the Supreme Court to bypass the appeals court for a quick decision on the immunity issue. The justices declined, but may have a second chance to consider it after the appeals court’s decision.
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