Former President Trump filed a motion seeking to halt activity in his election interference case after filing a notice of appeal Thursday seeking to override a decision from a federal judge who denied his motion to toss the case.
The back-to-back motions ask Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is overseeing the Jan. 6 case, to pause “all district court proceedings in this case” as a higher court considers Trump’s appeal of the motion to toss the entire case.
The maneuver threatens to upend Trump’s March 4 trial date in the case, and comes after prosecutors have argued the former president is simply using every avenue possible to disrupt the case in the hopes of punting the matter beyond the 2024 election. Trump is facing charges on four counts in relation to his efforts to stay in power after losing the 2020 election.
Chutkan last Friday declined a motion from Trump that sought to dismiss the case based both on the concept of presidential immunity, as well as constitutional grounds, including the First Amendment.
“Whatever immunities a sitting President may enjoy, the United States has only one Chief Executive at a time, and that position does not confer a lifelong ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ pass, Former Presidents enjoy no special conditions on their federal criminal liability,” Chutkan wrote in the 48-page ruling.
“Defendant may be subject to federal investigation, indictment, prosecution, conviction, and punishment for any criminal acts undertaken while in office,” she added.
The notice of appeal from Trump does not contain any legal arguments, which will come in a later filing.
But in asking to stay the proceedings, Trump’s attorneys bashed Chutkan’s decision.
“The Court incorrectly denied President Trump’s claim of Presidential immunity on the ground that such immunity does not extend to federal criminal prosecution for a President’s official acts,” they wrote.
Beyond arguments that Trump, as a former president, still carries presidential immunity, in a 31-page brief filed in October, he likewise argued the prosecution represented a case of “double jeopardy” as he already faced an impeachment trial in the Senate following Jan. 6.
“But neither traditional double jeopardy principles nor the Impeachment Judgment Clause provide that a prosecution following impeachment acquittal violates double jeopardy,” Chutkan wrote.
She also tossed Trump’s contention that the indictment violated his due process rights and that the alleged conduct was protected by the First Amendment.
Trump’s motion had also argued his prosecution “criminalize[s] core political speech” as Trump had a right to raise questions about the election.
“The fact that the indictment alleges that the speech at issue was supposedly, according to the prosecution, ‘false’ makes no difference,” Trump’s attorneys wrote. “Under the First Amendment, each individual American participating in a free marketplace of ideas — not the federal Government — decides for him or herself what is true and false on great disputed social and political questions.”
Trump’s appeal follows another for one of Chutkan’s decision, a gag order that barred him from making statements that “target” individuals involved in the case, including witnesses and even special counsel Jack Smith.
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