On Thursday, former U.S. President Donald Trump's legal team submitted a 52-page motion to the court, making an unprecedented claim: that Trump's actions during his presidency, specifically regarding the 2020 election interference charges, are protected by presidential immunity.
Thus, they argue, the court should dismiss the indictment against him. The impending trial, slated for March 2024 in Washington, delves into allegations that Trump attempted to unduly influence the 2020 election results. These election results ultimately favored the Democrat Joe Biden.
Trump's lawyers emphatically stated before US District Judge Tanya Chutkan, "The Court should dismiss the indictment, with prejudice, on grounds of Presidential immunity." Supreme Court May Decide Immunity While many legal observers deem Trump's presidential immunity defense a long shot, it could potentially stall the trial's commencement, especially if the case reaches the conservative-leaning Supreme Court.
Notably, Trump has previously tried to assert the "absolute immunity" defense, but without success. However, the question of a former president's immunity from criminal charges remains unanswered by the highest court. Breaking with over two centuries of U.S.
history, Trump is the first former president to face criminal prosecution. His defense, leaning on a Supreme Court case concerning former president Richard Nixon, claims the law affords "absolute immunity" to the president for actions within their official responsibility boundaries.
The attorneys further argued that Trump, then 77, was fulfilling his presidential duty to "ensure election integrity" when challenging the 2020 election results. They added, "The indictment is centered on actions that fall squarely within President Trump's official duties." Elaborating on the concept of presidential immunity, Trump's defense recognized that their Nixon reference pertained to a former president's civil liability, not alleged criminal actions.
The central question, as they put it, is a "serious and unsettled question" of law. The charges against Trump claim he conspired to defraud the U.S. and obstruct the January 6, 2021, Congress joint session—a day marked by a violent assault from Trump supporters.
Furthermore, the indictment suggests Trump aimed to invalidate American votes with false victory claims in the 2020 election. Trump faces additional legal challenges, including racketeering charges in Georgia, a trial in Florida concerning mishandling top-secret documents, and a New York civil fraud trial alongside his two eldest sons over alleged real estate asset inflation.
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