Special counsel Jack Smith hits back at Trump’s immunity claims

The filing came in the federal election subversion case ahead of 9 January oral arguments

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Sunday 31 December 2023 12:56

US Supreme Court declines to fast-track Trump’s ‘absolute immunity’ in election subversion case

Special counsel Jack Smith has hit back at Donald Trump’s claim of immunity from criminal prosecution in a new court filing.

Mr Smith’s office argued in a Saturday filing that Mr Trump’s claim “threatens to license Presidents to commit crimes to remain in office.”

The filing came in the federal election subversion case ahead of 9 January oral arguments before a US appeals court in Washington DC, reported CNN.

“The defendant asserts (Br.1) that this prosecution ‘threatens … to shatter the very bedrock of our Republic.’ To the contrary: it is the defendant’s claim that he cannot be held to answer for the charges that he engaged in an unprecedented effort to retain power through criminal means, despite having lost the election, that threatens the democratic and constitutional foundation of our Republic,” Mr Smith wrote.

“This Court should affirm and issue the mandate expeditiously to further the public’s — and the defendant’s — compelling interest in a prompt resolution of this case,” he added.

Mr Trump has pleaded not guilty to four counts, including conspiring to defraud the United States and to obstruct an official proceeding.

The one-term president has appealed a district court’s ruling that he is not entitled to immunity for any crimes committed while he was in the White House.

In his filing, the special counsel’s office stated that it would be dangerous to give a president that kind of broad immunity.

“The implications of the defendant’s broad immunity theory are sobering. In his view, a court should treat a President’s criminal conduct as immune from prosecution as long as it takes the form of correspondence with a state official about a matter in which there is a federal interest, a meeting with a member of the Executive Branch, or a statement on a matter of public concern,” the filing stated.

“That approach would grant immunity from criminal prosecution to a President who accepts a bribe in exchange for directing a lucrative government contract to the payer; a President who instructs the FBI Director to plant incriminating evidence on a political enemy; a President who orders the National Guard to murder his most prominent critics; or a President who sells nuclear secrets to a foreign adversary, because in each of these scenarios, the President could assert that he was simply executing the laws; or communicating with the Department of Justice; or discharging his powers as Commander-in-Chief; or engaging in foreign diplomacy.”

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