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Trump files new challenges in federal election obstruction case in Washington

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Former President Donald Trump launched a multi-pronged legal attack Monday evening against his federal lawsuits for allegedly overturning the results of the 2020 election, saying his actions were protected by the First Amendment as political speech and arguing that he could not be tried in criminal court for trying to block Joe Biden’s victory after being impeached by the House but acquitted by the Senate.

In a series of court papers filed moments before midnight, Trump’s lawyers claimed he was the victim of political persecution by the Biden administration. They called the charges against Trump legally flawed and vague, and said the indictment should not link him to the violence of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol because he is not charged of incentive. this riot.

“Because the government has not accused President Trump of responsibility for the actions that occurred at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, the allegations related to those actions are irrelevant and are damaging and inflammatory. Therefore, the Court should strike these allegations from the indictment,” defense attorneys Todd Blanche, John Lauro, Emil Bove and Gregory Singer wrote.

“The indictment must be dismissed because it seeks to criminalize fundamental political speech and advocacy that is at the heart of the First Amendment. »

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While aspects of the former president’s case raise historic and unprecedented legal questions, the motions filed Monday evening are fairly typical of criminal defendants attempting to challenge the legal sufficiency of the charges against them.

Trump’s claims of selective and flawed prosecutions have been raised unsuccessfully over the past two years.more years by defendants charged in connection with the Capitol riot, in which angry Trump supporters – sent by Trump to the Capitol after a rally near the White House – numerous police officers were injured, several people died, and forced the evacuation of Congress as it met to officially certify the results of the 2020 election.

Prosecutors led by Special Counsel Jack Smith will have an opportunity to respond to Trump’s requests in the coming weeks, both in writing and during oral arguments.

Trump is expected to stand trial in federal court in Washington in March after pleading not guilty to an Aug. 1 indictment charging him with criminal conspiracy to remain in power, obstruct Congress’ legal certification of Biden’s victory and depriving Americans of their civil right to have their votes count.

The case is one of four criminal charges filed against Trump this year, including a trial in Georgia that involves similar allegations of attempting to obstruct the state’s election results; a federal indictment in Florida for alleged withholding and mishandling of classified documents and obstruction by Trump after leaving the White House; and a New York state business fraud lawsuit accusing Trump of concealing a hush money payment made during the 2016 election campaign.

Read Trump’s legal team’s motion seeking dismissal on constitutional grounds

In Monday night’s motions, Trump argued that Congress’s failed impeachment efforts — in the final days of his presidency, after the Capitol riot — were the proper venue to decide guilt or punishment. Trump’s innocence regarding his election-related efforts. Trump’s legal team also argued that Trump acted within the bounds of the presidency in seeking to cancel the 2020 results.

The Constitution states that a president impeached and removed from office can then be charged by “indictment, trial, judgment, and punishment,” terms that Trump’s lawyers say “presuppose that ‘a president who is not found guilty cannot be subject to criminal prosecution.’

They added: “The plain text of the Constitution, the structural principles of separation of powers, our history and traditions, and the principles of Double Jeopardy prohibit the executive branch from seeking to reindict and retry a president who has already was impeached and acquitted in 2007. a trial before the US Senate.

Prosecutors have previously said Trump argued otherwise during his impeachment trial, saying he could be prosecuted later if the Senate acquitted him, an interpretation prosecutors agreed with. Smith’s team argued that the clause was intended to limit Congress’s power to remove and disqualify presidents from office, not to exclude legal action against those who escaped impeachment.

In a separate filing Monday evening, Trump’s legal team argued that even if the allegations in the indictment were true, the government had not adequately explained how the former president broke the laws whom he is accused of having raped.

For example, defense attorneys said that even though prosecutors charged Trump with conspiring to defraud the country, they failed to show that his intent was deceptive — an intent that Trump’s lawyers say should be necessary to charge him with the crime.

Legal experts said intent, or proving that Trump knew his claims of widespread election fraud were lies, would be a crucial part of Smith’s case. But Team Trump argued Monday night that the president was in no position to mislead anyone about the fraudulent nature of the election. The attorneys said the case should not be allowed to go to trial and urged U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan to dismiss his indictment on statutory grounds.

“Virtually all Americans, including the public officials cited, had similar access to much of this same information, including a mountain of publicly reported facts and opinions, which were the subject of media coverage total throughout the post-election period and beyond,” the filing says.

“Arguing that President Trump, as one voice among millions, was capable of somehow unilaterally “deceiving” or “deceiving” these individuals, including some of the most influential politicians informed about the planet, simply by defending his opinions on this controversial issue. , is beyond absurd.


Washington

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