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Trump presidential immunity rejected by special counsel in new filing

By Jake Beardslee · December 30, 2023

In brief…

  • Filing submitted to Appeals Court, sought review of lower court's denial of Trump's motions to dismiss
  • Smith argued criminal immunity for president would be dangerous, accused Trump of conspiring to overturn election
  • Supreme Court recently rejected Smith's request for expedited review before full appeals process
Special Counsel Jack Smith submitted a filing disputing Trump's presidential immunity claims in the 2020 election interference case and seeking expedited appellate review of the lower court's denial of Trump's motions to dismiss.  Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Wikimedia

Over the weekend, Special Counsel Jack Smith submitted legal documents challenging former President Donald Trump’s assertion that he is immune from prosecution related to allegations of interfering in the 2020 election. Smith filed the argument with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit with the goal of getting the court to review and overturn the district court’s decision to reject Trump’s requests to dismiss the case. Trump had argued the case should be dismissed based on the principle that presidents have immunity from prosecution while in office and the constitutional prohibition on double jeopardy.

“Immunity from criminal prosecution would be particularly dangerous where, as here, the former President is alleged to have engaged in criminal conduct aimed at overturning the results of [an] election,” Smith wrote. He argued that a president who “unlawfully seeks to retain power through criminal means unchecked by potential criminal prosecution could jeopardize both the Presidency itself and the very foundations of our democratic system of governance.”

The document also levied accusations against Trump of “conspir[ing] to use knowingly false claims of election fraud with the goal of overturning the legitimate results of that election and disenfranchising millions of voters.” Smith concluded by asking the appeals court to affirm the district court’s denial of Trump’s motions to dismiss and requested an expedited review “given the imperative public importance of a prompt resolution of this case.”

The Supreme Court recently declined Special Counsel Smith’s petition to accelerate review of the presidential immunity issue before the appeals court fully considers the case, CNN reported. Trump’s lawyers had urged the Supreme Court to reject expedited consideration, contending that the case should go through the normal appeals procedure before reaching the high court.