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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 16 April 2024

Donald Trump's lawyers call for dismissal of classified documents case citing presidential immunity

Trump faces dozens of felony counts in federal court in Florida accusing him of illegally hoarding classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate and obstructing government efforts to retrieve them

AP Washington Published 23.02.24, 12:47 PM
Donald Trump

Donald Trump File picture

Former President Donald Trump's legal team filed multiple motions on Thursday night urging a Florida judge to dismiss the criminal case charging him with illegally retaining classified documents, claiming in part that presidential immunity protects him from prosecution — an argument they have already submitted to the US Supreme Court in his election interference case.

Lawyers Christopher Kise and Todd Blanche wrote that the charges "turn on his alleged decision to designate records as personal under the Presidential Records Act (PRA) and to cause the records to be moved from the White House to Mar-a-Lago."

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Since Trump made this decision while he was still in office, they wrote, it "was an official act, and as such is subject to presidential immunity."

Trump faces dozens of felony counts in federal court in Florida accusing him of illegally hoarding classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate and obstructing government efforts to retrieve them. The case is currently set for trial on May 20, but that date could be pushed back.

Trump's lawyers also argued that Attorney General Merrick Garland's appointment of special counsel Jack Smith to investigate the former president was “unlawful” and grounds for dismissal of the documents case.

Smith's other case against Trump was unveiled in August when the former president was indicted in Washington on felony charges for working to overturn the results of the 2020 election in the run-up to the violent riot by his supporters at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.

The case had been set for trial on March 4 in federal court in Washington. But that date was cancelled amid an appeal by Trump on the legally untested question of whether a former president is immune from prosecution for official acts taken in the White House. Trump's lawyers have asked the Supreme Court to intervene, but it's not clear if the justices will.

A June 2023 indictment charging Trump with dozens of felony counts alleges that investigators found boxes of sensitive documents recklessly stored at Mar-a-Lago in spaces including a ballroom, a bathroom and shower, his bedroom and a storage room. Prosecutors have said the documents he stowed, refused to return and in some cases showed to visitors risked jeopardizing not only relations with foreign nations but also the safety of troops and confidential sources.

Trump faces four criminal indictments in four different cities as he vies to reclaim the White House. The cases total 91 felony counts.

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