Trump Requests Federal Appeals Court to Dismiss 2020 Election Lawsuit

On Saturday night, Donald Trump requested a federal appeals court to dismiss the case brought by special counsel Jack Smith, alleging the former president’s involvement in unlawfully scheming to overturn the outcomes of the 2020 election.

Trump has “absolute immunity from prosecution for his official acts” as president, including him seeking to “advocate for and defend the integrity of the federal election, in accord with his view that it was tainted by fraud and irregularity,” Trump’s lawyers argued in a 71-page filing.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, appointed by former President Barack Obama, previously rejected Trump’s immunity claim, stating that his four-year tenure as Commander in Chief didn’t grant him immunity from criminal accountability. The judge also dismissed Trump’s First Amendment defense.

Trump’s legal team appealed the immunity claim and successfully paused the proceedings. In response, Smith’s team urged the appeals court to expedite consideration of the immunity claim, which was accepted, leading to scheduled oral arguments on January 9.

Separately, Smith’s team sought Supreme Court intervention on the presidential immunity issue before the federal appeals court ruling, aiming to maintain the trial schedule. However, the Supreme Court rejected the request last week. The trial is currently slated for March 4, 2024, one day before Super Tuesday, a crucial moment as Trump pursues another White House term.

Trump’s legal team contends that their client can only face criminal prosecution for specific actions during his time in office if he was impeached by the House and subsequently convicted by the Senate. Notably, Trump was impeached by the Democrat-led House for allegedly inciting the U.S. Capitol breach on January 6, 2021, but the GOP-led Senate acquitted him.

Describing the indictment as “unlawful and unconstitutional,” Trump’s legal team argues that the district court’s order should be overturned, asserting that Smith’s case should be dismissed due to the former president facing a double jeopardy violation.