Fri. May 24th, 2024

Trump lawyer backs off absolute immunity argument at Supreme Court

By 37ci3 Apr25,2024



WASHINGTON – Former President Donald Trump has long argued for absolute immunity in the federal election meddling case, but his attorney struck a different tone Thursday. Arguments in the Supreme Court.

With the judges largely skeptical of his argument to dismiss the entire indictment against Trump, attorney D. John Sauer made some concessions.

Sauer agreed with special counsel Jack Smith, who led the prosecution, that the indictment contained some allegations that did not involve “official acts” by the president.

Sauer’s main argument was that all indictments are based on official acts, which should be protected by partial immunity to ensure that presidents’ hands are not tied by fear of prosecution after leaving office.

Sauer acknowledged that Trump could be prosecuted for personal actions unrelated to his official duties as president.

During oral argumentsjustices struck down the public-private distinction, which could lead to a ruling sending the case back to lower courts for further deliberations on the issue, potentially reducing the chances of a trial before the November election.

Conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett and liberal Justice Elena Kagan both questioned Sauer about whether specific allegations in the indictment constituted official acts.

Sauer said Trump’s behavior in three of the five cases he was asked about involved personal actions, meaning they could be prosecuted.

In a brief supporting prosecutors, attorney Matthew Seligman said Sauer’s concessions underscored that Trump “is not immune from the vast majority of the conduct alleged in the indictment.”

Ultimately, he said, the case “will go to trial without some outside interference — without Trump’s order.” [the Justice Department] to drop the charges after winning the election.

At the same time, Sauer’s withdrawal may have little consequence from an electoral perspective. Further delaying the trial that Sauer is so close to achieving is a form of victory in itself.

Here are the issues raised against Sauer and his responses:

False election claims

Barrett asked Sauer about the alleged interaction Trump was involved in while concluding Smith’s court report.

“The petitioner has engaged a private attorney who is willing to knowingly spread false allegations of election fraud to resolve his issues with the election results. Private? Barrett asked.

“It sounds special to me,” Sauer said.

The lawyer who is “willing to spread false allegations” appears to be referring to Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s former lawyer. unindicted conspirator 1the indictment mentions that picture.

False false claims

The conspiracy allegation with a separate attorney — another component of the indictment — drew a similar response from Sauer.

“The petitioner conspired with another special counsel to cause the petitioner to submit to the court a check signed by the petitioner that contained false allegations in support of the objection. Private?” Barrett asked.

“It sounds special, too,” Sauer said.

This appears to be a reference to Assassin 2 or Trump ally attorney John Eastman. The indictment It claims that Trump “signed an affidavit confirming allegations of fraudulent election fraud made on his behalf in a lawsuit against the governor of Georgia.”

Fake voters

Citing another example, Barrett asked about slates of fraudulent voters.

“Three private actors, two attorneys … and a political consultant helped execute a plan to submit fraudulent presidential voter rolls to obstruct the certification process, and Petitioner and a conspiratorial attorney directed those efforts,” Barrett said.

“It’s private,” Sauer said.

Barrett seems to have been known as Eastman, Giuliani or Kenneth Chesebro. co-conspirator 5 in the indictment. “Political consultant” most likely refers to Boris Epstein. 6, who is believed to be a conspirator. According to the allegations, those persons participated in the incident the so-called fake voter scheme, it could create a contested election image and give Vice President Mike Pence an excuse to block congressional confirmation, even though the vice president’s role in the process is largely ceremonial. Pence did not go along with the scheme, and he privately told Trump that he did not see enough evidence of election fraud to determine the outcome.

Chesebro pleaded guilty Election in Georgiasweatreference workto work Giuliani pleaded not guilty. Giuliani and Epstein were also indicted this week Fraud election scheme in Arizonawhere they have not yet entered into claims.

Sauer also elaborated on his response, saying it would be an official move to “not meet with the Department of Justice to discuss who the acting attorney general of the United States will be.” This is a reference to Jeffrey Clark or Unindicted conspirator 4A few days before the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, Trump considered becoming the attorney general.

“Communication with the American public” and “communication with Congress on matters of major federal concern” would be considered official acts, Sauer said. This will cover Trump’s communications with members of Congress until January 6.

Contact with the Republican National Committee

Kagan also summarized elements of Smith’s court brief by asking her own questions.

“Defendant called the chairman of the Republican National Committee and asked him to gather electors in designated states, falsely representing to him that the votes of such electors would be used only in the event of ongoing litigation and one of the states swinging the outcome in favor of the defendants. Kagan said.

“We have taken an official position,” Sauer said.

The exchange appears to refer to Trump’s contacts Ronna McDanielRNC Chairman, who said During his brief tenure as an NBC News contributor, he said he believed Joe Biden had won the 2020 election “fair and square” and argued that “there are problems in 2020.” Prosecutors allege that Trump and Eastman called McDaniel on Dec. 6, 2020, and told him it was important for the RNC to help the campaign recruit fraudulent voters.

“After consulting with the Campaign and hearing that the voter muster was in progress, the RNC Chairman called and communicated this information to the Respondent, who responded in agreement.” prosecutors said.

Arizona legislative hearing

Kagan also asked about legislative efforts in Arizona.

“The defendant asked the speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives to call the Legislature into session to conduct a hearing based on allegations of election fraud,” Kagan said.

“We’ve taken the position that this is official,” Sauer said, adding that it was an official move “to protect the integrity of the federal election.”

Kagan’s question was about Trump’s communication with then-Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives Rusty Bowers. who says the prosecutors “He supported the Defendant in the election, publicly declaring that there was no evidence of serious fraud in Arizona.” Bowers after standing up to Trump lost the offer Trump’s opponent in 2022 for the state Senate seat.

Sauer’s response was met with skepticism by Kagan.

“Well, I mean ‘trying to protect the integrity of the election,’ that’s the defense,” he said. “The allegation is that he tried to overthrow the elections.”

He also investigated Sauer’s two hypothetical scenarios that he believed involved official acts: a president selling nuclear secrets to a foreign enemy and a president ordering a military coup.

Sauer said both could constitute official acts, meaning the president could be immune from prosecution.

The exchange between the justices and Sauer could be important as the court gauges what next steps to take.

Michael Dreeben, a Justice Department attorney who defended the case on Smith’s behalf, said the case could proceed even if the court found immunity from official action.

But, he added, prosecutors will still seek to introduce evidence of potential official acts “because of its probative value as showing the defendants’ knowledge and intent.”



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