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Trump lawyers point to House select Jan. 6 panel in effort to dismiss criminal charges

Former president filings seek to cast the prosecution as selective and vindictive

Members of the now-disbanded Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol hold a hearing in July 2022.
Members of the now-disbanded Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol hold a hearing in July 2022. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Lawyers for Donald Trump argued Monday that President Joe Biden and his administration coordinated with a House select committee to create a politically motivated prosecution, part of a push to dismiss criminal charges related to the former president’s role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

Trump argues in one of the filings late Monday that the now-disbanded bipartisan House select panel to investigate the Jan. 6 attack coordinated with the Justice Department and pressured Biden to file charges, resulting in the indictment in Washington.

That filing seeks to dismiss the charges for “selective and vindictive prosecution.” In it, Trump’s attorneys argue an investigator for the committee alerted federal prosecutors in Washington to “a few details” regarding Trump, and the committee “failed to preserve a huge amount of exculpatory evidence” such as interview materials and records identifying witnesses.

The House panel was “not confined by a burden of proof or the same due process standard” as a criminal court, Trump’s motion states. Trump argues the case was driven by Biden’s objective “to use the criminal justice system to incapacitate President Trump, his main political rival and the leading candidate in the upcoming election.”

Trump made the arguments in three separate motions to dismiss the case. The other two motions argued that the case violated the Constitution and the four statutes under which he is charged do not fit his alleged conduct.

Earlier this month, Trump filed a motion to dismiss the case based on “presidential immunity” from prosecution. Judge Tanya S. Chutkan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has yet to rule on that motion. Trump has repeatedly fought aspects of the Washington case in the two months since it was filed, including a failed bid for Chutkan to recuse herself from the case.

Last week, Chutkan issued a limited gag order against Trump citing his months of public statements about prosecutors and witnesses that included suggesting one be given the death penalty. Trump has appealed that gag order, arguing it restricted his free speech rights to criticize the government. Chutkan has said she would not enforce the gag order while Trump is appealing it.

Federal prosecutors filed the four-count indictment in August, alleging Trump and his allies attempted to overturn the 2020 presidential election by getting states to stop counting votes, persuading DOJ officials to issue false statements about alleged fraud, organizing false slates of electors and pressuring former Vice President Mike Pence to toss votes from states Biden won. The effort culminated in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, according to the indictment.

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland and the Biden administration have said that Special Counsel John L. “Jack” Smith operates independently and makes his own decisions about what charges to bring. Garland appointed Smith after Trump launched his reelection bid last year.

Smith also has brought charges against Trump in Florida tied to his retention of classified documents after his presidency.

Trump has already signaled he would use the Washington case to relitigate the select committee’s investigation in a court filing this month, which seeks Chutkan’s permission to subpoena several House entities and select committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., for the panel’s records.

Trump and other Republicans have argued the panel didn’t retain many of its records, which Trump claimed in Monday’s legal filings included evidence of his innocence.

In an interview last week about the subpoena requests, Thompson said his panel kept all the records it was required to under House rules and handed them over to the House Administration Committee.

“I think it’s just his distract, distract, distract style of litigation,” Thompson said of Trump. “But there’s nothing that I’m aware of that he couldn’t have access as a public citizen if he went through the proper channels and made the request.”

Trump is scheduled to face trial in the case next March, one of several criminal trials the former president could face amid his reelection bid.

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