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Trump Asks Federal Court To Throw Out Classified Documents Charges

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


Former President Donald Trump has petitioned a federal judge in Florida to dismiss the criminal case against him, which claimed he illegally retained classified documents, arguing, in part, that presidential immunity shields him from prosecution.

In a recent legal filing challenging the case led by special counsel Jack Smith, Trump’s attorneys echoed arguments similar to those dismissed by a federal appeals court earlier this month in his 2020 election interference case in Washington, The Associated Press reported on Friday.

Trump has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in that case as he aims to postpone the trial until after the November election.

Trump’s legal team argued that the charges related to the classified documents hinge on his purported designation of the papers as “personal” records under the Presidential Records Act. They contend that this action constitutes an “official act” carried out during his tenure in the White House, thus shielding him from prosecution, the AP reported further, adding:

Washington’s federal appeals court in its decision this month was unsparing in its repudiation of Trump’s claim that former presidents enjoy absolute immunity for actions that fall within their official job duties.

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But Trump’s lawyers argued that the appeals court’s decision was wrong, telling U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon she should not follow the court’s “poorly reasoned decision” in the classified documents case.

Earlier this month, Cannon denied Trump’s attorneys’ request to postpone the pretrial motion deadline in the documents case, handing the former president a defeat.

Attorneys representing the former president have attempted to postpone the proceedings, just as they have in any of his prior criminal trials. But Cannon, who was appointed by Trump, declined to extend the deadline for submitting pretrial motions; instead, the deadline of February 22 will remain in place.

Last week, a former federal prosecutor took Smith to task over how he worded a filing to the U.S. Supreme Court requesting justices not delay his obstruction trial in Washington, D.C., by taking up his immunity appeal.

Bill Shipley, who currently represents some of the defendants charged in connection with the January 6 riot, implied that Smith may have “shot himself in the foot” when he informed the court that the nation holds a “compelling interest” in swiftly bringing Trump to trial.

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Trump has pleaded not guilty to four charges in that case, which alleges that he unlawfully attempted to overturn the results of the 2020 election. The former president is presently seeking to dismiss the case, arguing that he is immune from prosecution because he was still in his official capacity as president and had a right to look into allegations of fraud and election abuse.

Smith requested in a filing with the Supreme Court that the justices uphold a prior decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which dismissed Trump’s assertions of absolute immunity, and proceed with trial proceedings. The initial trial date of March 4 has already been canceled, and no alternative date has been proposed yet.

“Delay in the resolution of these charges threatens to frustrate the public interest in a speedy and fair verdict—a compelling interest in every criminal case and one that has unique national importance here, as it involves federal criminal charges against a former President for alleged criminal efforts to overturn the results of the Presidential election, including through the use of official power,” Smith wrote.

“The public interest in a prompt trial is at its zenith where, as here, a former president is charged with conspiring to subvert the electoral process so that he could remain in office. The nation has a compelling interest in seeing the charges brought to trial,” he added.

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Shipley wrote on social media that Smith may have angered justices by implying they wouldn’t be serving the public interest unless they abide by his timeline.

“I don’t think SCOTUS will be patient with a lecture about how to perform its Constitutional role in a way that is ‘In the public interest,’” Shipley posted on X.

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