Donald Trump Cites Presidential Immunity in Motion to Dismiss January 6 Case

Alina Habba, attorney for former President Donald Trump, left of center, Former US Preside
Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump argued that special counsel Jack Smith’s case against Trump over the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot should be dismissed because he has presidential immunity.

Trump pleaded not guilty after Smith indicted him on four counts, including conspiracy to defraud the U.S., conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiracy against rights.

“Breaking 234 years of precedent, the incumbent administration has charged President Trump for acts that lie not just within the ‘outer perimeter,’ but at the heart of his official responsibilities as President,” Trump’s attorneys argued. “In doing so, the prosecution does not, and cannot, argue that President Trump’s efforts to ensure election integrity, and to advocate for the same, were outside the scope of his duties.”

A person raises a "Make America Great" hat as US President Donald Trump speaks to supporters from The Ellipse near the White House on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. - Thousands of Trump supporters, fueled by his spurious claims of voter fraud, are flooding the nation's capital protesting the expected certification of Joe Biden's White House victory by the US Congress. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

A person raises a “Make America Great” hat as President Donald Trump speaks to supporters from The Ellipse near the White House on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Many legal scholars expected Trump to file a motion to dismiss the case on presidential immunity grounds.

Trump’s attorneys noted that all of the alleged acts Trump committed occurred while he was still president.

“Every action of the Defendant charged in the indictment occurred while he was still in office as President of the United States, and, according to the prosecution, all concerned a federal government function,” The motion stated. “Given the all-consuming nature of the Presidency, these facts alone strongly support the notion that the indictment is based solely on President Trump’s official acts.”

Special Counsel Jack Smith delivers remarks on his latest indictment against former U.S. President Donald Trump on August 1, 2023, in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Trump’s attorneys also pointed to the 2021 acquittal in the Senate’s impeachment trial, where they heard arguments about Trump’s alleged role in the Capitol riot.

“The Impeachment Clauses provide that the President may be charged by indictment only in cases where the President has been impeached and convicted by trial in the Senate,” they argued.

“President Trump was acquitted of these charges after trial in the Senate, and he thus remains immune from prosecution. The Special Counsel cannot second-guess the judgment of the duly elected United States Senate,” they argued.

Trial in this case is set to begin in early March 2024.


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