Trump Appeals for Presidential Immunity in Election Subversion Case: Urges Federal Court to Dismiss Charges

Sun Dec 24 2023
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WASHINGTON: Donald Trump is intensifying efforts to dismiss the federal election subversion criminal case in Washington, D.C., urging the DC Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a lower-court ruling rejecting claims of presidential immunity. In a filing on Saturday, Trump contends that he is shielded under presidential immunity, maintaining that he acted in his official capacity as president to “ensure election integrity.”

The former president’s legal team argues that Trump’s indictment is unconstitutional, emphasizing that presidents enjoy immunity for “official acts” unless impeached and convicted by the Senate. According to Trump’s attorneys, the Constitution establishes safeguards against the abuse of criminal prosecution for political purposes, requiring Congress to approve such actions through impeachment.

In their filing, Trump’s lawyers assert, “Before any single prosecutor can ask a court to sit in judgment of the President’s conduct, Congress must have approved of it by impeaching and convicting the President. That did not happen here, and so President Trump has absolute immunity.”

Trump, facing a trial on March 4, has sought to delay proceedings by challenging the immunity claim. The DC Circuit Court of Appeals, expediting its consideration, is scheduled to hear oral arguments on January 9. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, overseeing the case, has temporarily halted procedural deadlines pending the appeal.

Earlier this month, Trump’s legal team asked the appeals court to review Chutkan’s ruling rejecting claims of immunity. Chutkan, in her decision, emphasized that Trump’s service as Commander in Chief does not grant him immunity from criminal accountability. She dismissed arguments that the indictment should be thrown out because Trump acted to “ensure election integrity” in his official capacity.

Trump’s lawyers contend that Chutkan “missed what the Founders recognized: That punishment of the President is irreducibly political and so belongs primarily to the branch most politically accountable—Congress and, ultimately, the Senate.” They also caution that Trump’s indictment could trigger cycles of politically motivated prosecution with lasting repercussions for the nation.

The Supreme Court, on Friday, declined to expedite the case, allowing the DC Circuit to weigh in first. Both sides retain the option to appeal the eventual ruling to the Supreme Court.

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