Special counsel urges appeals court to reject Trump immunity

Special counsel Jack Smith urged an appeals court on Saturday to reject former President Donald Trump's efforts to dismiss his federal election interference case on presidential immunity grounds.

A 80-plus page filing In the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Smith argued against Trump's assertion that presidential immunity shields him from trial on federal charges of conspiracy to rig the 2020 presidential election.

“Separation-of-powers principles, constitutional text, history and precedent all make clear that a former president can be prosecuted for crimes committed while in office — including, crucially here, illegal acts to remain in office despite losing an election,” the lawyers wrote.

“Rather than justifying our constitutional framework, defendant's blanket immunity claim threatens to license presidents to commit crimes to stay in office,” they added. “The Founders did not intend and could never have foreseen such an outcome.”

In response, Smith filed his objection Short for DC circuit Trump's lawyers said on December 23 that constitutional and other immunity principles would protect a current or former president from criminal prosecution for official actions “unless he is first impeached and convicted by the Senate.”

“A president should not face criminal charges based on conduct acquitted by the United States Senate,” Trump attorney D. John Sauer filed last week. “The impeachment against President Trump is illegal and unconstitutional. It should be rejected,” he said.

Former President Donald Trump speaks at the Commit-To Caucus rally in Coralville, Iowa on December 13.Charlie Neighborkall / AP File

The special counsel filed that argument and others Saturday, saying that while the separation of powers doctrine shields the former president from civil liability for official conduct, it does not exempt him from criminal liability when accused of violating federal laws. Criminal Laws.

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“Any burden of post-presidential criminal liability has minimal impact on an incumbent's activities and outweighs the overriding public interest in upholding the rule of law through federal prosecution,” the attorneys said. The Constitution's impeachment clause, which limits congressional remedies to impeachment and disqualification from office, provides that “a conviction in a Senate trial does not constitute a prelude to criminal prosecution, which serves a function distinct from impeachment and removal.”

U.S. District Judge Tanya Sudkan, who is presiding over the federal election interference case, ruled this month that Trump's claims of presidential immunity did not protect him from the charges he faces.

Circuit Judges Karen Henderson, appointed by President George H.W. Bush, and J. Michelle Childs and Florence Pan are expected to hear oral arguments in the appeals court on January 9.

The court's decision to hear Trump's appeal threatens to delay the start date of the trial, currently scheduled for March 4. The Supreme Court previously rejected Smith's request to bypass the normal appellate court process to quickly resolve an immunity claim.

Trump faces four felony counts of conspiring to overturn his loss to Joe Biden in the presidential election. He has pleaded not guilty and has both publicly denounced the charges and repeatedly pushed to delay various legal challenges against him until after next year's election, arguing earlier trial dates amounted to election meddling.

Trump defended his actions after his 2020 election loss In real society Last Sunday, Although he did not mention the appeals court, he argued that he was entitled to immunity.

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“I did not campaign, the election is over. I did my duty as president to expose the rigged and stolen election and investigate further,” he wrote.

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