Trump claims Jan. 6 actions were part of his ‘official’ duties as president – The legal team of former president Donald Trump has thrown everything, including the kitchen sink, in their defense of the former chief executive in his indictment that accuses him of conspiring to change the results of the 2020 presidential election.
This Sounds Crazy
In a bold move, Trump is trying to defend himself by claiming presidential immunity, saying that he cannot be prosecuted for “official acts”. Trump’s lawyers submitted a 52-page brief to the Federal District Court in Washington, arguing that their client should be “absolutely immune from prosecution” given that any actions Trump performed then were all under his “official responsibilities as president.”
The brief, submitted by John Lauro, one of Trump’s lawyers, further claimed that the Justice Department and the Special Counsel are seeking to overturn historical precedent that says that sitting presidents cannot be indicted.
“Here, 234 years of unbroken historical practice — from 1789 until 2023 — provide compelling evidence that the power to indict a former president for his official acts does not exist. No prosecutor, whether state, local or federal, has this authority; and none has sought to exercise it until now,” Lauro stated in the filing.
The new defense tactic comes after efforts by Trump’s legal team to file a recusal motion that sought to disqualify presiding judge Tanya Chutkan from the case claiming bias, as well as trying to push for the case to be tried in 2026.
Trump’s claims of “absolute immunity” have raised the hackles of prosecutors handling the case, with the team of Special Counsel Jack Smith responding to Lauro’s filing with a 54-page retort of their own, saying that, “No one in this country, not even the president, is above the law.”
“He is subject to the federal criminal laws like more than 330 million other Americans. No court has ever alluded to the existence of absolute criminal immunity for former presidents,” prosecutors wrote in their filing, adding that nothing in the Constitution’s “text and structure, history and tradition”, nor in any precedent set by the Supreme Court, supports the claim of absolute immunity.
“It would grant absolute immunity from criminal prosecution to a president who accepts a bribe in exchange for a lucrative government contract for a family member, or a president who sells nuclear secrets to a foreign adversary,” prosecutors said.
Observers have stated that the immunity claim is unlikely to succeed and could just be a tactic by Trump’s defense team to delay the case as it winds its way up to the Supreme Court, where the former commander-in-chief ostensibly holds a better chance at success due its conservative supermajority. Or, as some have pointed out, delay his case until he (possibly) becomes president again, which would presumably allow him to pardon himself or order the Attorney General he appoints to simply drop the cases.
Tim Ramos has written for various publications, corporations, and organizations – covering everything from finance, politics, travel, entertainment, and sports – in Asia and the U.S. for more than 10 years.
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