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Trump’s Lawyers Call For Dismissal of Classified Docs Case, Citing Presidential Immunity

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Former President Donald Trump urged a Florida judge to dismiss the criminal case accusing him of improperly retaining classified documents.

Trump claimed, in part, that presidential immunity shields him from prosecution.

Trump’s attorneys reiterated this in a motion that was part of a barrage of motions that attacked the case brought by Special Counsel Jack Smith.

This month, a federal appeals court in Washington soundly dismissed the arguments made by the lawyers in their 2020 election interference case.

In an attempt to push back the trial until after the November election, Trump has asked the United States Supreme Court to get involved in that case, the Associated Press reported.

Trump’s attorneys claimed that the charges about classified documents stem from his purported choice to label the documents as “personal” records under the Presidential Records Act.

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They further contended that Trump cannot face legal consequences because that decision was an “official act” made while he was still in the White House.

In a ruling this month, the federal appeals court in Washington harshly rejected President Trump’s novel assertion that former presidents are immune from prosecution for acts taken while performing official duties.

However, Trump’s attorneys contended that the appeals court erred in its ruling, informing U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon not to abide by the court’s “poorly reasoned decision” in the case involving classified documents.

Trump’s legal team contended in additional court documents submitted late on Thursday that Attorney General Merrick Garland’s selection of Special Counsel Smith to look into the former president was “illegal” and should be dismissed along with the documents.

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As it relates to Trump, they are also criticizing the statute for being “unconstitutionally vague.”

According to the lawsuit, Trump unlawfully possesses classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate and hinders the government’s attempts to obtain them. Investigators allegedly discovered boxes of private documents carelessly kept at Mar-a-Lago in areas like his bedroom, storage room, ballroom, bathroom, and shower.

This is according to an indictment from June 2023 that charges him with numerous felonies.

The documents he hid, refused to return, and in some cases displayed to guests, according to the prosecution, put at risk not only diplomatic ties with other countries but also the security of military personnel and confidential sources.

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Additionally, they claim that Trump asked a staff member to remove video footage from his Florida estate in an attempt to thwart the federal investigation into his records.

Originally slated for trial in May, Judge Cannon has postponed several other deadlines and indicated that a crucial pretrial conference in March would be a good opportunity to reschedule the trial date. The former president is vying to win back the White House in November by addressing four criminal cases, this one among them.

The trial date for Smith’s other case against Trump—which accused him of plotting to reverse his defeat in the 2020 election—was postponed while the former president pressed his claims of presidential immunity.

Trump’s attorneys have asked the Supreme Court to put the case on hold to allow him to defend his claims of presidential immunity.

Since the Supreme Court’s earlier ruling that presidents are exempt from civil lawsuits for their official actions, Trump’s attorneys have been arguing for months that this defense should also apply to criminal cases.

Whether the 2020 election case goes to trial before the November election could depend on the justices’ decision and timing.

It has significant political ramifications because, should he win, Trump may attempt to use his position as leader of the executive branch to order the dismissal of the federal cases by appointing a new attorney general.

Alternatively, he might attempt to obtain a pardon for himself, which is an unproven legal strategy.

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