Special counsel asks Judge Cannon to label Trump’s immunity claim in classified documents as ‘frivolous’

Special counsel asks Judge Cannon to label Trump’s immunity claim in classified documents as ‘frivolous’ - Business and Finance - News

Special Counsel Jack Smith’s Opposition to Donald Trump’s Presidential Immunity Claim in Criminal Case

Special Counsel Jack Smith is strongly opposing former President Donald Trump’s assertion of presidential immunity in the criminal case regarding his handling of classified documents. Smith’s office has urged Judge Aileen Cannon to deny Trump’s immunity claim, arguing that it is “wholly without merit” and an attempt for delay.

Trump faces criminal charges in Florida for taking classified national defense documents from the White House after leaving office and resisting efforts to retrieve them. He has entered a plea of not guilty.

Immunity Claim Unrelated to Charges against Trump

Smith’s office stated in their filing that “the immunity claim here is so wholly without merit that it is difficult to understand it except as part of a strategic effort for delay.” They added that the indictment against Trump “does not charge Trump for any acts that he undertook as President, let alone an official presidential act.”

Frivolous Immunity Claim

The special counsel’s office requested that the court certify Trump’s new immunity claim as “frivolous.” Such a certification would close off the former president’s immediate avenue for appeal, which could potentially delay the trial. An immunity claim is one of the few issues that can halt a trial if appealed.

Timelines and Immunity Claims

The timelines leading to trial have become a contentious issue in both of Smith’s prosecutions. Trump’s presidential immunity claim in his January 6, 2021-related federal case, which focuses on actions taken while in office, was not deemed to be frivolous by the courts. However, his case has been on hold for weeks while the courts consider the issue, with oral arguments scheduled for April 25.

Addressing Trump’s Arguments

In separate court filings on Thursday, Smith responded to Trump’s other arguments for dismissing the classified documents case. These included allegations of selective and vindictive prosecution, as well as claims that Trump was allowed to take classified material to his Mar-a-Lago estate after leaving the White House and that the special counsel was unlawfully appointed.

Comparisons between Trump and Biden

Smith strongly refuted Trump’s claim that he was being treated unfairly and selectively, stating that “He has not identified anyone who has engaged in a remotely similar battery of criminal conduct and not been prosecuted as a result.”

Former Special Counsel Robert Hur’s Report on Biden’s Handling of Classified Documents

Smith referred to former special counsel Robert Hur’s report on President Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents, stating that “Trump, unlike Biden, is alleged to have engaged in extensive and repeated efforts to obstruct justice and thwart the return of documents bearing classification markings.”

Legal Elements for Prevailing on an Immunity Claim

The special counsel argued that Trump’s arguments do not satisfy the legal elements required to prevail on an immunity claim, which include showing that prosecutors acted with “genuine animus” toward a defendant. Instead, they argued that Trump “in effect selected [himself] for prosecution.”

Trump’s Handling of Classified Material and the Presidential Records Act

Trump has consistently argued that his handling of classified material is allowed under the Presidential Records Act. However, prosecutors argue that nothing in the federal law permits a president to take and store classified material.

Personal Records vs. Presidential Records

The Presidential Records Act states that the moment a president leaves office, the National Archives and Records Administration gains custody and control of all presidential records from their administration. Personal records are described in the PRA as things like personal notes, materials relating to private political associations, or materials relating exclusively to the president’s own election to the White House.

Trump’s Attempt to Designate Records as Personal

Despite Trump’s attorneys arguing that the president could designate records as “personal” and lawfully keep them after leaving office, prosecutors stated on Thursday that “Nothing in the PRA remotely suggests that the President can lawfully convert presidential records into personal ones simply by removing them from the White House at the end of his term.”