Special Counsel Jack Smith pushed back on former President Donald Trump’s “should” argument. covered with absolute immunity He was removed from criminal prosecution and argued in a new filing Saturday that this sweeping allegation “gives him license to commit crimes in order to remain in office.”
Smith’s response to President Trump’s request for immunity in the federal election destruction case came ahead of oral arguments scheduled for January 9th in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C.
“The defendant claims that this prosecution “threatens to shatter the very foundations of our country” (Br. 1). “Defendant’s insistence that he not be required to answer the charges that he made an unprecedented effort to do so threatens the democratic and constitutional foundations of our republic,” Smith wrote in the new filing. I wrote this.
“This court should promptly approve and issue the order in furtherance of the public’s and the defendant’s compelling interest in a speedy resolution of this case,” he added.
Trump faces four charges in the case, including conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruct official proceedings.former president He pleaded not guilty.
Pretrial proceedings in federal election overturning case temporarily put on hold pending Trump’s appeal of a district court judge’s ruling that the former president does not qualify for immunity for potential crimes he committed while in office. It was done.
The trial was originally scheduled to begin on March 4. Lawyers for the former president have repeatedly insisted that the case be tried after the November 2024 presidential election, as Trump continues to contest the presidential election. Disclaimer request Highlight those efforts.
If the special counsel and trial judge act quickly on these arguments and the circuit court considers the case, Trump’s trial date could be kept as scheduled.
Smith warned in Saturday’s filing that granting this kind of broad immunity to former presidents poses extreme risks.
“The implications of the defendant’s broad theory of immunity are grave. In his view, the court will not rule out whether the president’s criminal conduct includes communications with state officials on matters of federal interest, or communications with members of the executive branch on matters of federal interest.” meeting, or a statement of public interest,” the filing reads.
“This approach would grant immunity from criminal prosecution to a president who accepts a bribe in exchange for directing the payer to a lucrative contract with the government. A president who directs the FBI director to fabricate incriminating evidence against a political opponent.” A president who orders the National Guard to kill his most prominent critics. Or a president who sells nuclear secrets to a foreign enemy. In each of these scenarios, the president claims he is simply enforcing the law. Or to liaise with the Department of Justice. Or to exercise authority as commander in chief. Or to engage in diplomacy.”
In Saturday’s filing, Smith also disputed Trump’s argument that the criminal charges amounted to double jeopardy because he was acquitted by the Senate during impeachment proceedings.
“Because the former president does not have the blanket immunity that defendant asserts, the dismissal of the motion to remove should be affirmed and this case should proceed to trial,” Smith wrote.
“However, that simple conclusion does not preclude the possibility that future prosecutions may raise difficult questions that suggest clear separation of powers concerns,” he added.
President Trump had previously asked the D.C. Court of Appeals to overturn a lower court’s ruling that rejected his immunity claims in the election-tampering case. The Supreme Court declined to expedite the case as requested by Mr. Smith.
Trump’s previous filing reiterated what the former president’s lawyers have repeatedly argued: that in his official capacity as president, Trump was “committed to the following objectives.”Ensuring the integrity of elections”, he had immunity because he allegedly undermined the results of the 2020 election, and his indictment was unconstitutional because the president cannot be criminally prosecuted for “official acts” unless he is impeached and convicted by the Senate. He claimed that.
District Judge Tanya Chutkan rejected Trump and his lawyers’ request for immunity, writing in an opinion that “four years of service as commander-in-chief gave him the sacred right of a king to avoid criminal liability in governing his fellow citizens.” It was not given to him.”
The special counsel’s arguments before the Court of Appeals also seek to address head-on how President Trump used potential trial delays to his advantage.
The prosecution asked the appeals court to implement the judgment five days after it was handed down. This is an unusual request, and if granted and the Justice Department wins at this level, Trump’s team will have to file further appeals to the D.C. Circuit or Supreme Court within days.
“For the reasons set forth in the government’s motion for expedited appeals, including the social imperative for a speedy resolution of this case, the government respectfully requests the court to issue an order within five days of the issuance of its judgment. We request that you make a decision,” Justice Department prosecutors wrote. . “Such an approach would appropriately require parties seeking further review to do so promptly.”
Because Trump has the rights of a criminal defendant, the appellate question would have to be resolved in a higher court before Trump goes to trial, an appeals process that could take months. many. But this appeal is already moving at relative warp speed.
In Saturday’s filing, prosecutors note they have already persuaded the appeals court to expedite the case.