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Trump asks appeals court to stop 2020 election prosecution

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(The Center Square) – Former President Donald Trump was performing “quintessential Presidential acts” when he pushed for others to look into what he said was an election “tainted by fraud and irregularities,” his legal team told a federal appeals court.

The attorneys said Trump’s actions after his 2020 loss to Joe Biden should be protected from judicial inquiry by the separation of powers. Trump is the first president to be indicted. He faces two federal criminal cases and two state cases. Trump’s attorneys told the appeals court that Special Counsel Jack Smith’s case threatens to upend the U.S. election process.

“During the 234 years from 1789 to 2023, no current or former President had ever been criminally prosecuted for official acts,” the attorneys wrote. “That unbroken tradition died this year, and the historical fallout is tremendous. The indictment of President Trump threatens to launch cycles of recrimination and politically motivated prosecution that will plague our Nation for many decades to come and stands likely to shatter the very bedrock of our Republic – the confidence of American citizens in an independent judicial system.”

That was the opening salvo in a 71-page brief filed with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals late Saturday.

“The indictment against President Trump is unlawful and unconstitutional,” Trump’s legal team wrote. “It must be dismissed.”

On Sunday morning, Trump posted similar comments on his social media platform, Truth Social.

“I wasn’t campaigning, the Election was over. I was doing my duty as President to expose and further investigate a Rigged and Stolen Election,” Trump wrote. “It was my obligation to do so, and the proof found is voluminous and irrefutable. Therefore, among other reasons, of course I am entitled to IMMUNITY.”

Trump has argued that he has presidential immunity from D.C. charges, which accuse him of criminal conspiracies to subvert the 2020 election results.

On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court turned down Smith’s request to fast-track former Trump’s claims of presidential immunity for his attempts to overturn his 2020 loss to Joe Biden. Smith had asked the nation’s highest court to decide on whether Trump is immune from prosecution before the March 4, 2024, trial date in the Washington D.C. case. The Supreme Court denied the request in a one-sentence statement without explanation following court custom.

The high court’s decision leaves the matter to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. That court has agreed to fast-track proceedings.

The Washington D.C. trial is set to start March 4. Smith’s team of federal prosecutors charged Trump with four federal counts related to contesting the 2020 election and the storming of the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021. The charges include conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the United States, obstruction, and conspiracy against the right to vote and to have one’s vote counted, according to the indictment. Trump has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

That trial starts the day before Super Tuesday on March 5, when 15 Republican primaries and caucuses are scheduled to take place.

Trump has repeatedly said that the federal cases against him amount to election interference. The GOP frontrunner has largely blamed Biden and Democrats for his legal troubles.

Federal prosecutors have previously argued in court filings that Trump has been trying to delay his federal criminal trials until after the 2024 election “at any cost.”

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