Lawyers representing Donald Trump have submitted a formal request to the federal appeals court overseeing his case, seeking presidential immunity against charges related to the alleged plot to overturn the 2020 election. This appeal comes after Judge Tanya Chutkan ruled in December that Trump does not possess “absolute immunity” for actions taken during his presidency.
Trump, who has pleaded not guilty to a four-count indictment accusing him of attempting to overturn the election results leading up to the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot, is now seeking to overturn Judge Chutkan’s decision. In a detailed 41-page filing submitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Trump’s legal team argues that previous presidents have not faced indictments and, therefore, the convention should remain unchanged. They also point out that Trump’s second impeachment acquittal by the Senate prevents him from being tried in a criminal court for election interference.
Additionally, Trump’s lawyers claim that the former president was only performing his presidential responsibilities by investigating allegations of voter fraud. They cite an anonymously authored document purportedly containing evidence of fraud during the 2020 election to support this argument. However, it is worth noting that claims of electoral fraud have been consistently debunked both in court and by independent election experts. Kyle Cheney, a senior legal affairs reporter for Politico, has described the use of this alleged voter fraud report as bizarre, stating that most, if not all, of its claims have been discredited.
Critics have voiced concerns over the credibility of Trump’s legal arguments. Matthew Mangino, the former district attorney of Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, points out that referencing a collection of debunked misinformation in a legal brief is astonishing and raises ethical questions. He cites the Model Rule of Professional Responsibility 3.3, which requires lawyers to protect the court from being misled by false evidence.
Allison Gill, host of the political podcast She Wrote, has also criticized Trump’s legal team, asserting that they have presented no new arguments in their filing. This lack of fresh perspectives further weakens their case.
In response to the ongoing developments, Trump took to his Truth Social account to express his views on the immunity case. He described the case as a “ridiculous Deranged Jack Smith” and claimed that respected legal minds in the country support his entitlement to immunity. However, it’s important to note that Trump’s assertions are not reflective of the consensus among legal experts.
Oral arguments for the immunity case are scheduled to begin on January 9, while the trial for the election interference charges is set to commence in Washington, D.C., in March. The outcome of these proceedings will have significant implications for both Trump and the broader political landscape.