Trump wants to re-litigate 2020 results in election subversion trial

Lawyers for the former president question government findings that rejected his fraud claims

Alex Woodward
Tuesday 28 November 2023 17:53 GMT
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Attorneys for Donald Trump made the clearest signal yet that they intend to question the outcome of the 2020 presidential election in a federal criminal trial over his attempts to subvert the results.

Lawyers for the former president want to investigate several government agencies about their handling of investigations into an election Mr Trump still falsely claims was stolen from and rigged against him.

A 37-page filing in US District Court in Washington DC on Monday asks prosecutors to produce mountains of documents surrounding “the impact of foreign influence” and “actual and attempted compromises of election infrastructure” as well evidence of alleged “political bias”.

Courtrooms, election officials, and Mr Trump’s own attorney general and White House counsel, among others, have repeatedly rejected the idea that widespread fraud affected the outcome of an election he lost. US Department of Justice special counsel Jack Smith argues that Mr Trump ignored those findings in his multi-state campaign to reverse the outcome.

Whether Mr Trump “genuinely believed that the election was stolen” is a matter for trial, his lawyers wrote. But they contend that the case against him is a politically motivated conspiracy to keep him from the White House in 2024, and that it was not “unreasonable” nor “criminal” for Mr Trump to “rely instead on the independent judgment that the American people elected him to use while leading the country.”

“The indictment in this case reflects little more than partisan advocacy designed to sabotage President Trump’s leading campaign for the 2024 President Election,” Mr Trump’s lawyers John Lauro and Todd Blanche wrote.

Prosecutors have “chosen to rely on the views of witnesses who aligned with the Biden Administration’s political viewpoints, and to treat those biased opinions as objective and irrefutable truths regarding the integrity of the 2020 election and the events of January 6, 2021,” they wrote.

Mr Trump and “hundreds of millions of voters” are “not obligated to accept at face value the Office’s politically motivated narrative,” they added.

A table of contents in their latest filing reads like a summary of familiar grievances. Lawyers want evidence of “informants and other undercover operatives” during the January 6 attack on the US Capitol and evidence “relating to infrastructure compromises, voting fraud and irregularities” in the 2020 election.

Lawyers also have pressed for information surrounding the Justice Department’s interactions with former Vice President Mike Pence, a central figure and witness in the indictment against Mr Trump.

The former president’s legal team also seeks “evidence of bias and investigative misconduct” and “coordination” with the Biden administration, including information related to criminal investigations into his son Hunter Biden, the subject of congressional Republican scrutiny and right-wing conspiracy theories.

The requests are likely a legal long shot; On Monday, US District Judge Tanya Chutkan rejected a request from Mr Trump’s attorneys for documents from the House select committee investigating January 6, a move she likened to a bad-faith “fishing expedition” from his defence.

An indictment with federal charges in the election interference case alleges three criminal conspiracies and a multi-state scheme to undermine the democratic process and obstruct Joe Biden’s victory.

A trial is expected to begin in March 2024, as Mr Trump navigates four criminal indictments and several lawsuits as he seeks the Republican nomination for president in his run for the White House.

The case is separate from a state-level criminal trial in Georgia, where Mr Trump and several co-defendants face a trial in Fulton County for an alleged “criminal enterprise” to overturn that state’s election results.

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