The former President has requested the court to dismiss his 2020 election conspiracy case on grounds of “Presidential Immunity.”
Why? Let’s dwell on the details to know the answer.
Why Trump appeals court to block 2020 election prosecution
The former United States president and 2024 presidential candidate Donald Trump has appealed to the courts to block the prosecution in his 2020 election conspiracy case.
U.S. Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith indicted the former President in August with four criminal charges for his attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results and incite a January 6, 2021, Capital attack.
On Saturday, Trump’s legal team filed a federal appeals court to dismiss the criminal case against the former President for seeking to change his defeat and threaten the American Constitution.
In a 71-page filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, his lawyer argued that Trump is “absolutely immune” from the charges because the alleged conduct happened when he served as U.S. President.
The lawyers claimed that the former President took necessary steps to ensure fair 2020 election results, and the alleged actions were within his official duties as President and, therefore, immune from criminal prosecution.
Smith has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to decide on Trump’s immunity matter. However, on Friday, the Supreme Court rejected Smith’s appeal to intervene, leaving the matter with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The case trial is scheduled for March 4, 2024.
Judicial Proceedings and Potential Trial Delays
Smith has been pleading to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals for early trials starting on the scheduled date in the public interest. But Trump’s 2020 election subversion case is on hold until the immunity issue is resolved. The D.C. Appeals Court has agreed to hear the case on January 9.
The case could likely end next month if the three-panel judge rules in Smith’s favor. But, Trump has requested that if the panel rules against him, they delay returning the case to the District Court to allow him time to decide whether to appeal to the Supreme Court. This process could take up to three to four months.
Trump’s legal team has been trying to delay the trials until after the 2024 election, hoping to win the White House in 2024 so that the former President can pardon himself as U.S. president.
Trump’s 2020 Election Appeal: Testing Presidential Immunity
With the approaching presidential primaries, Trump’s legal team has been in constant attempts to delay his 2020 election conspiracy case trials.
Trump first filed a motion to dismiss his 2020 election conspiracy case on grounds of “presidential immunity” on October 5, 2023.
The filing on Saturday came after a lower court rejected Trump’s appeal to consider his presidential immunity.
In their recent filing to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Saturday, Trump’s lawyer took the support of provisions for the President’s office in the American Constitution to request dismissal of the criminal charges related to his attempts to prevent President Biden‘s victory.
His primary argument centered around presidential immunity, claiming that his actions after the 2020 election, which included pressuring state officials to change election results and making public statements about voter fraud, were within the responsibilities of his presidential duties and could not be prosecuted.
Missouri-based lawyer John Sauer and other members of the Trump legal team wrote in their filing, “During the 234 years from 1789 to 2023, no current or former president had ever been criminally prosecuted for official acts. That unbroken tradition died this year, and the historical fallout is tremendous. The indictment of President Trump threatens to launch cycles of recrimination and politically motivated prosecution that will plague our nation for many decades to come and stands likely to shatter the very bedrock of our republic, the confidence of American citizens in an independent judicial system.”
Trump’s lawyers have also argued that presidential immunity is important to ensure the separation of powers between the executive and judiciary branches of the government. They demanded that Trump’s criminal case should be dismissed because the Senate did not convict him in his Second impeachment trial in 2021. According to the U.S. Constitution, presidential impeachment is a political process, not criminal.
The filing stated, “Under our system of separated powers, the Judicial Branch cannot sit in judgment over a President’s official acts. The indictment against President Trump is unlawful and unconstitutional. It must be dismissed.”
Trump and his supporters have called the case politically motivated to distract his presidential campaign.
On Sunday, the former President commented on the case on his Truth Social platform: “I was doing my duty as President to expose and further investigate a Rigged and Stolen Election. It was my obligation to do so, and the proof found is voluminous and irrefutable.”
Meanwhile, opponents have argued that presidential immunity does not extend to cover criminal acts and that separation of powers does not shield the President from legal processes and potential trials for his criminal conduct.
Smith has also argued that Trump’s official duties as President do not include efforts to threaten state officials to change the 2020 election results and raise false claims of election fraud.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing in the 2020 election case and has pleaded not guilty to all charges, including conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, attempt to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiracy against voters’ rights.
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