(Washington) – Special Prosecutor Jack Smith urged a federal appeals court Saturday to reject former President Donald Trump's claims that he is immune from prosecution, saying that suggesting he cannot be held responsible for crimes committed during his term “threatens our democratic and constitutional foundations.” From the country.
Mr. Smith's team's brief was presented ahead of next month's debate on the legally untested question of whether a former president can be prosecuted for actions he committed while in the White House.
Although the case is currently being heard in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, it will likely be returned to the Supreme Court, which earlier this month denied prosecutors' request for summary judgment in their favor, ruling that Trump may be forced to stand trial on conspiracy charges. To cancel the results of the 2020 elections.
The outcome of the dispute is considered crucial for both sides, especially since the case has effectively been put on hold while Trump asserts his immunity claims before the appeals court.
Prosecutors hope a quick ruling rejecting those arguments will revive the case and keep it on track for trial, currently scheduled for March 4, in federal court in Washington. However, Trump's lawyers could benefit from a lengthy appeals process that could significantly delay the case and possibly push it beyond the November election.
Trump's lawyers say the appeals court should order the case dismissed, arguing that as a former president, he is exempt from prosecution for actions that fall within his official duties as president.
Mr. Smith's team argued that there was no such immunity in the Constitution or case law, and that the actions Trump took in his failed attempt to cling to power, in any case, were not part of the president's official responsibilities.
Four counts accuse Trump of conspiring to disrupt the certification of electoral votes in Congress on January 6, 2021, when rioters motivated by his lies about the election results stormed the U.S. Capitol in a violent clash with police. The indictment alleges that he participated in a scheme to build fake voter lists in hotly contested states that would falsely certify Trump's victory in those states and encouraged then-Vice President Mike Pence to thwart the vote count.
Prosecutors wrote that these actions were not part of the president's official duties and were intended only to help him win re-election.
“A president who unlawfully seeks to retain power through criminal means unchecked by potential criminal prosecution could jeopardize the presidency itself and the foundations of our democratic system for government officials to use fraudulent means to thwart the transfer of power and remain in office.” Mr. Smith's team wrote.
Prosecutors also said in their filing that while the presidency plays a “vital role in our constitutional system,” the principle of accountability for wrongdoing also plays an important role.
“Rather than defending our constitutional framework, the broad demand for immunity for defendants threatens to allow presidents who commit crimes to remain in office,” they wrote. The Founders never intended and would never tolerate such an outcome. »
Charges in several cases
While Trump's lawyers said the indictment threatens “the foundation of our republic,” prosecutors say the defense took things the wrong way.
“The defendant’s claim that he cannot be held accountable on charges that he engaged in an unprecedented effort to retain power through criminal means, despite his election defeat, is what threatens the democratic and constitutional foundations of our republic,” they declared.
A three-judge panel is scheduled to hear arguments on January 9. Two of the justices, J. Michelle Childs and Florence Pan, were appointed by President Joe Biden. The third, Karen Lecraft Henderson, was appointed to the bench by former President George H.W.
US District Judge Tanya Chutkan previously rejected arguments supporting immunity, saying the president's office does not give a “get out of jail free card.” Trump's lawyers later appealed the decision, prompting Mr. Smith to seek to bypass the court and seek urgent ruling from the Supreme Court.
Last week, the judges rejected the request without explanation, leaving the case before the Court of Appeal.
Trump faces three other criminal charges. He is accused in Florida of illegally possessing classified materials at his Mar-a-Lago home, and faces lawsuits in Georgia accusing him of trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election in that state, in addition to a case in New York accusing him of rigging it. Business records regarding payments to a pornographic actress.
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