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Experts warn Trump’s ‘immunity’ claim could backfire on judges

Lawyers for former President Donald Trump asked a federal appeals court Saturday to throw out his election subversion case in Washington, arguing that he has “presidential immunity.”

Trump’s lawyers, in a 71-page brief filed with the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, argued that the former president’s actions to overturn his defeat following the 2020 elections “constitute presidential acts par excellence” and “fall within his “official functions”. “

“In the 234 years from 1789 to 2023, no current or former president has ever been criminally prosecuted for official acts. This unbroken tradition died this year and the historic fallout is enormous,” the filing asserts. “The indictment of President Trump threatens to launch cycles of recriminations and politically motivated prosecutions that will plague our nation for many decades to come and risk shattering the very foundation of our republic: the trust of American citizens in an independent judiciary .”

The filing argues that Trump’s case should be thrown out because he was not convicted by the Senate in his second impeachment trial, saying being prosecuted constitutes double jeopardy even though he was charged of various offenses during the impeachment trial.

The filing asks the appeals court to put the case on hold if it disagrees with Trump’s argument so the Supreme Court can take up the issue instead.

Saturday’s filing comes a day after the Supreme Court denied special prosecutor Jack Smith’s request to expedite the case. Trump’s lawyers opposed Smith’s request, arguing that the case should first go through the appeals process.

Former U.S. Attorney Harry Litman predicted that appeals court judges would not like Trump’s argument.

“I think the court of appeal will not be very favorable to this argument of general immunity. Basically what he’s trying to say is that he was acting as president and not as a candidate, that he wasn’t trying to do anything wrong, but that he was making sure simply about the integrity of the elections,” Litman told CNN.

“I don’t think it’s a position that’s going to be successful,” he continued. “On the other hand, it currently delays the start of the trial and, in that sense, he gains an important advantage on some level.”

Litman predicted that Trump would attempt to further delay the case if his request for immunity was denied, asking the full appeals court to hear the case before taking it to the Supreme Court.

“But if the appeals court grants us a short-term stay, which is exactly what the Colorado court did a few days ago, that will deliver and that will be the real oversight,” he said. declared.

“Will they keep him from delaying?” he added. “They seem to be on his game and are worried about letting things drag on too long.”

Dave Aronberg, the Palm Beach County district attorney, predicted the case could turn against him.

“I think we now know why Donald Trump didn’t want the Supreme Court to rule on this issue yet. This is such a ridiculous argument. He knows he’s going to lose and it’s all about the delay. The courts will throw coal in his stockings after reading these briefs,” he told MSNBC.

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“He’s basically saying that once you’re acquitted by the Senate, by a bunch of political cronies in the Senate, he’ll become king — it’s a permanent get-out-of-jail-free card,” he continued. “That’s not how it works.”

Aronberg warned that “one thing judges don’t like is being told they have no power.”

“That’s what Trump is telling the courts. ‘Hey, you judges have no power over me. I can do whatever I want.’ By the way, be careful what you ask for,” he added. “If such immunity, this absolute immunity applies to Trump, it would apply to Joe Biden. Joe Biden could say arrest Trump and then go through impeachment and be acquitted and then president to life. It’s not so funny when it happens to you, is it?

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