Updated Jan 8, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Trump seeks to dismiss Georgia case, citing presidential immunity

Trump walks outside with a red tie on

Former President Trump arrives to Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport after being booked at the Fulton County jail in August 2023. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Former President Trump's lawyers on Monday sought the dismissal of the Georgia 2020 election case, citing the legally untested immunity theory.

Why it matters: Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, has already made the legally untested argument that he should have "absolute immunity" from charges that he plotted to overturn the 2020 election in a federal case against him.

  • U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan has rejected the argument in the federal case and agreed to pause proceedings as Trump appeals the decision.
  • He's expected to attend the appeals court hearing in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.
  • Trump is under four total indictments in four different jurisdictions.

State of play: In Monday's motion, attorneys argued to Fulton County Superior Court judge Scott McAfee that Trump can't be charged for crimes committed during the presidency because he was acting in his official capacity.

  • Presidential immunity "shields President Trump from criminal prosecution for acts within the 'outer perimeter' of his official duties," the motion said, citing Nixon v. Fitzgerald, which protected a former president from most civil — not criminal — damages.

In Georgia, Trump was indicted last year over alleged efforts to flip the state's 2020 election results.

  • He was charged with 13 counts, including violating Georgia's racketeering law.
  • "Making statements to the public on matters of national concern — especially matters involving core federal interests, such as the administration of a federal election — lies in the heartland of the President's historic role and responsibility," the motion said.

Between the lines: The Justice Department has long held that a sitting (not former) president is immune from criminal prosecution.

  • The Senate's acquittal in Trump's impeachment trial should shield him from criminal prosecution on the same acts or occurrences, his lawyers argue.
  • But after the trial, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Trump could still face criminal or civil trials for his involvement in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Be smart: The U.S. Supreme Court last month rejected special counsel Jack Smith's request to immediately fast-track consideration on the matter — raising the possibility that his federal 2020 election trial stretches beyond the scheduled March 4 start date.

Go deeper: What to know about Trump's immunity claim in the 2020 election case

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details.

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