Katelynn Richardson on October 5, 2023
Former President Donald Trump moved Thursday to dismiss his 2020 election case based on presidential immunity.
Trump’s lawyers asked U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan to dismiss the indictment alleging he interfered in the 2020 election, arguing he is “he is absolutely immune from prosecution” because his actions were taken within the bounds of his office, according to the court document. They argue that the actions outlined in the indictment — making public statements, communicating with the Justice Department, state lawmakers and members of Congress about election related matters and organizing slates of electors — all fall within his official duties.
“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,” his lawyers argue. “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.”
His lawyers also argue that an indictment may only be brought after the President “has been impeached and convicted by trial in the Senate,” yet Trump was “acquitted by the Senate for the same course of conduct.”
Ignoring this immunity risks a “chilling effect” on the President’s decision-making abilities, the lawyers argue.
“American history teems with situations where the opposing party passionately contended that the President and his closest advisors were guilty of criminal behavior in carrying out their official duties—John Quincy Adams’ ‘corrupt bargain’ with Henry Clay provides a notable example,” they wrote. “In every such case, the outraged opposing party eventually took power, yet none ever brought criminal charges against the former President based on his exercise of official duties.”
Trump previously called on Chutkan to recuse from the case over remarks she made during sentencing hearings for two Jan. 6 defendants that allegedly suggested Trump should be prosecuted and imprisoned. Chutkan rejected his motion for her to recuse on Sept. 27.