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Trump’s Immunity Claim Faces Federal Appeals Court Scrutiny in Indictment Battle

Former President Trump’s legal team seeks immunity from Jan. 6 indictment sparking a legal battle.

Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump looks on during a campaign event on December 19, 2023, in Waterloo, Iowa.

Donald Trump’s lawyers asked a federal appeals court on Saturday to throw out special counsel Jack Smith’s indictment of the former president related to the Jan. 6 uprising, arguing that Trump is immune from prosecution for acts he committed as president. This follows the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to fast-track Trump’s appeal of a previous ruling by U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who rejected the immunity claim.

Trump’s legal team claimed, in a filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, that he was acting within “quintessential” presidential authority in pursuing claims about “alleged fraud and irregularity” in the 2020 presidential election. The ex-president’s lawyers further suggested that the Trump indictments may endanger national stability and are “likely to shatter the very bedrock of our Republic — the confidence of American citizens in an independent judicial system.”

Smith’s team of federal prosecutors, on the other hand, have argued that “Trump broke the law after the election by scheming to disrupt the Jan. 6, 2021, counting of electoral votes, including by pressing then-Vice President Mike Pence to not certify the results and by participating in a plot to organize slates of fake electors in battleground states,” as the Associated Press reports.

Trump’s argument was emphatically rejected by Chutkan in a ruling earlier this month, in which she wrote that the presidency “does not confer a lifelong ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ pass.” Smith then asked the Supreme Court to consider Trump’s appeal, in hopes of sticking to a trial date in March. The appeals court has set arguments in the case for Jan. 9, but with a further appeal to the Supreme Court likely, Trump’s trial is nearly certain to be delayed.

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