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Trump Seeks Dismissal of Fort Pierce Classified Documents Case Citing Presidential Immunity

Fort Pierce - Friday February 23, 2024: Former President Trump is urging Fort Pierce Federal Judge Aileen Cannon to dismiss the 40 felony charges he's facing in the classified document's case claiming, in part, that presidential immunity protects him from prosecution, even though that argument has been tried and failed already.

Late yesterday afternoon Trump's lawyers filed several motions they previously made in the election interference case in Washington D.C. In that case, the federal Appeals Court sharply rejected Trump's claim. The three Appeals Court judges were unsparing in their unanimous repudiation of Trump’s novel claim that former presidents enjoy absolute immunity from any actions they take while in office. Trump has appealed that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

However, in the Fort Pierce documents case, Trump’s lawyers are making the same argument. They're claiming the federal appeals court's decision was wrong and they're asking Judge Cannon not to follow what they call the appeal court's “poorly reasoned decision".

The Fort Pierce document case accuses Trump of illegally hoarding classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate and obstructing government efforts to retrieve them. A June 2023 alleges 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 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. In addition the ex-president is accused of attempting to deceive federal investigators by hiding some of the classified documents. They allege he asked staffers to move some of the documents from one place to another, and then to delete camera footage that showed those documents being moved.

In a separate motion of dismissal filed yesterday in the documents case, Trump's lawyers argue that the ex-president cannot be prosecuted because he was entitled to designate the classified documents he took to Mar-a-Lago as “personal” records under the Presidential Records Act.

In addition to those two motions for dismissal, Trump’s lawyers filed other motions arguing that Attorney General Merrick Garland’s appointment of special counsel Smith to investigate the former president was “unlawful” and grounds for dismissal. They are also attacking the documents law that Trump is accused of violating as “unconstitutionally vague” as applied in his case.

The case is currently scheduled to go to trial in May, but Judge Cannon has pushed back multiple other deadlines and signaled an openness to revisiting the trial date during a pivotal pretrial conference set for March.

The Fort Pierce documents case is one of four felony criminal cases the former president is facing as he vies to reclaim the White House in November.

Special Prosecutor Smith’s other case against Trump, accusing him of scheming to overturn his 2020 election loss, was supposed to go to trial in March, but that date was canceled while the former president pushed his claims of presidential immunity. Trump’s lawyers have asked the Supreme Court to keep the case on hold while he continues to fight his presidential immunity claims.

The Supreme Court has previously held that presidents are immune from civil liability for official acts, and Trump’s lawyers have for months argued that that protection should be extended to criminal prosecution as well.