Jack Smith asks DC appellate court to reject Trump's claim of presidential immunity in J6 case

Biden's Special Counsel Jack Smith claims Trump should not have presidential immunity in the J6 case he's brought against him.

Libby Emmons Brooklyn NY
Donald Trump claimed he should have immunity in the Biden administration's J6 case against him, and that motion was filed in the US Court of Appeals for DC. Biden's Special Counsel Jack Smith claims Trump should not have presidential immunity, and filed his motion for the appellate court to not hear the motion. Oral arguments in the case are set for January 9, 2024 before a panel of three judges.

Trump's team first filed the motion for immunity with DC Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is presiding over the case. Chutkan rejected the motion, and Trump's attorneys then appealed to the DC appellate court. Smith intervened at that point and asked the Supreme Court to weigh in. The Supreme Court denied that request to get involved. Smith then asked the appellate court to drop the motion.

The Supreme Court typically does not bypass as appellate court, though if the appellate court rejects the motion for immunity or upholds it, either losing side is likely to bring the question to the Supreme Court. 

Smith wants to press on with the case as quickly as possible, hoping likely to obtain a conviction prior to the casting of ballots in the 2024 election, for which the former president is the GOP frontrunner and leads incumbent Joe Biden in polling.

In asking the court to dismiss Trump's motion, Smith claims that "For the first time in our Nation’s history, a grand jury has charged a former President with committing crimes while in office to overturn an election that he lost. In response, the defendant claims that to protect the institution of the Presidency, he must be cloaked with absolute immunity from criminal prosecution unless the House impeached and the Senate convicted him for the same conduct. He is wrong. Separation-of- powers principles, constitutional text, history, and precedent all make clear that a former President may be prosecuted for criminal acts he committed while in office—including, most critically here, illegal acts to remain in power despite losing an election."

The Presidency plays a vital role in our constitutional system, but so does the principle of accountability for criminal acts—particularly those that strike at the heart of the democratic process. Rather than vindicating our constitutional framework, the defendant’s sweeping immunity claim threatens to license Presidents to commit crimes to remain in office. The Founders did not intend and would never have countenanced such a result," Smith's motion continues.
Trump's legal team argued in their motion that since he was president at the time he is accused of conspiracy to violate civil rights, conspiracy to defraud the government, obstruction of an official proceeding and a conspiracy to carry out that obstruction, he should have immunity against these charges.

"The indictment of President Trump threatens to launch cycles of recrimination and politically motivated prosecution that will plague our Nation for many decades to come and stands likely to shatter the very bedrock of our Republic—the confidence of American citizens in an independent judicial system," Trump's attorneys argue.

"Under our system of separated powers, the Judicial Branch cannot sit in judgment over a President’s official acts. That doctrine is not controversial. It was treated as self-evident and foundational from the dawn of the Republic...," the motion from Smith reads.

"The structure of our government, the text of the Constitution and its early commentators, common-law immunity doctrines, our political history, the Supreme Court’s analogous immunity doctrines, and the policy considerations rooted in the separation of powers all dictate that no President, current or former, may be criminally prosecuted for his official acts unless he is first impeached and convicted by the Senate. Nor may a President face criminal prosecution based on conduct for which he was acquitted by the U.S. Senate. The indictment against President Trump is unlawful and unconstitutional. It must be dismissed," Trump's attorneys state in their motion.

Special Counsel Trump Immunity Filing Dc Circuit 12-23-23 by Libby Emmons on Scribd

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