• Thu. May 23rd, 2024

Trump to attend D.C. court hearing on presidential immunity claims

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WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump will appear in federal court in Washington Jan. 9 when his lawyers argue that he is immune from prosecution on charges that he illegally tried to overturn the 2020 election, according to three people familiar with his plans.

The election interference trial, scheduled to begin March 4, is on hold while Trump appeals a federal judge’s rejection of his contention that he enjoys presidential immunity for “actions performed within the ‘outer perimeter’ of his official responsibility.” If Trump wasn’t impeached and convicted by Congress, his attorneys argue, he is not subject to criminal prosecution.

Trump’s lawyers are scheduled to make that case in oral arguments before a three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Tuesday.

In an 82-page filing Saturday, special counsel Jack Smith’s office asked the court to rebuff Trump’s appeal.

“Separation-of-powers principles, constitutional text, history, and precedent all make clear that a former President may be prosecuted for criminal acts he committed while in office — including, most critically here, illegal acts to remain in power despite losing an election,” federal prosecutors wrote.

After the appeals court rules on the matter, the Supreme Court could decide quickly whether to take up the case.

On Thursday, Trump lawyer John Lauro filed a motion asking U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is overseeing the case, to sanction Smith and his team for continuing to produce evidence in the discovery process while the trial is paused. Lauro wants Chutkan to hold the prosecutors in contempt. The special counsel’s office declined to comment.

Trump’s appearance in federal court will come in the shadow of the third anniversary of the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, the culmination of weeks of efforts by his team to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election as president. And it will come as his rivals for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination campaign in Iowa ahead of that state’s first-in-the-nation Jan. 15 caucuses.

The former president was last in a D.C. courthouse in August when he pleaded not guilty to the federal election interference charges.

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