Former President Donald Trump’s legal team has initiated the first step in their defense against the federal election interference case. They contend that Trump possesses “absolute immunity” from prosecution for actions conducted during his presidential tenure.
As reported by the Conservative Brief on Monday, October 30, 2023, this motion is just the beginning of what appears to be a series of motions aimed at dismissing the case brought against Trump by Special Counsel Jack Smith.
Smith has accused Trump of orchestrating a scheme to manipulate the 2020 election.
In August, Trump pleaded not guilty to charges of attempting to overturn the election results by employing fake electors, misusing the Justice Department for faux election crime investigations, trying to influence the vice president to alter election results, and perpetuating unfounded claims of a stolen election.
Throughout, Trump has maintained his innocence, categorizing the allegations as a politically motivated persecution.
James D. Zirin, a former federal prosecutor, has offered an op-ed in The Hill, discussing the concept of “immunity” and the potential involvement of the U.S. Supreme Court in determining its application.
Before the criminal charges, Trump confronted civil lawsuits asserting his civil liability for his role in the January 6 uprising.
Two federal judges in Washington, D.C., have rejected Trump’s plea for absolute immunity to dismiss these lawsuits, with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals presently considering an appeal in the case of U.S. Capitol Police Officer James Blassingame.
Trump’s legal team intends to introduce the question of executive immunity in the criminal court soon, and they view the ongoing civil appeal as the best chance to compel the Supreme Court to make a ruling on this matter. A favorable outcome in this gamble could potentially delay or obstruct the criminal case.
The lawsuit of Blassingame v. Trump stems from the horrifying events at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, wherein a Black police officer endured racist abuse and violence. Trump allegedly played a role in the attack that inflicted severe emotional and physical trauma on Blassingame.
In February 2022, U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta ruled against Trump’s immunity claims in three lawsuits, including Blassingame’s case. Senior U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan issued a similar ruling, allowing a civil rights group’s lawsuit to proceed.
According to inside sources, Trump’s legal team will argue that the criminal case should remain on hold until Blassingame’s lawsuit concludes, citing it as the closest precedent for appellate review.
In August, the Trump administration filed an appeal with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, asserting that the lower court erred in its judgment. U.S. Circuit Judges Gregory Katsas, Judith Rogers, and Sri Srinivasan heard oral arguments in December.
There is a possibility that the appeals court may choose to review pre-trial motions regarding immunity prior to the criminal trial.
Trump’s legal team could also file an interlocutory appeal, a rare move, usually saved for high-stakes issues before trial, if they fail in the lower courts and convince an appellate court that unresolved legal matters are at play.
Legal experts speculate that despite the usual reluctance to hear interlocutory appeals, appellate courts, including the Supreme Court, may make an exception in this case.
They argue that initiating a trial, with the possibility of valid immunity defense, would inflict damage upon the presidency and the nation.