Trump files motions to dismiss classified documents case based on 'selective and vindictive prosecution'

 May 4, 2024

Former President Donald Trump is again seeking the dismissal of the criminal classified documents federal case brought against him in South Florida by Special Counsel Jack Smith.

This time, Trump has called upon District Judge Aileen Cannon to dismiss the federal charges against him because he has been the victim of "selective and vindictive prosecution" ordered by the Biden administration, The New York Sun reported.

Trump's attorneys argued at length in motions filed this week that several other high-level federal officials over the past few decades, including President Joe Biden, were previously found to have retained classified documents without authorization but all either escaped any punishment whatsoever or received only a minor misdemeanor slap on the wrist.

Trump argues he's been singled out for "selective and vindictive prosecution"

On Thursday, former President Trump's attorneys filed a 178-page motion, the vast majority of which was comprised of evidentiary exhibits, that urged Judge Cannon to "dismiss the indictment based on selective and vindictive prosecution."

"American history is chock full of public examples involving alleged mishandling of classified information and documents, which did not result in the type of politically motivated charges that the Special Counsel’s Office has brought against President Trump and his co-defendants," the motion stated.

Trump's attorneys then provided details for "some of the most glaring and egregious examples" of such that included President Biden, former Vice President Mike Pence, former President Bill Clinton, former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton, former FBI Director James Comey, former CIA Director David Petraeus, former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, former CIA Director John Deutch, and former White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx.

"Despite decades of similar conduct, no former president has been charged with the crimes the Special Counsel’s Office has alleged in this case," the attorneys wrote. "Dozens of public officials have faced allegations relating to the handling of classified information without being charged with the types
of felonies alleged in the Superseding Indictment."

"In this case, the record adequately demonstrates impermissible prosecutorial motives, driven in an unprecedented fashion by a sitting president to
serve his political objective of prosecuting his predecessor and opponent. The selective and vindictive prosecution doctrines forbid such behavior," they added. "Accordingly, the Court [should] require the Special Counsel’s Office to produce relevant discovery, hold a hearing, and then dismiss the Superseding Indictment."

More evidence in support of "discriminatory" acts against Trump

That same day, former President Trump's attorneys also submitted a 43-page reply brief "in further support" of the prior motion to dismiss for selective and vindictive prosecution that provided some additional context and details and was again comprised mostly of supplemental evidence, such as letters from President Biden's counsel on White House stationary that seemingly bolstered Trump's claims that he's been singled out for unusual and unprecedented prosecution.

That brief argued that the prosecution against Trump is "motivated by discriminatory purpose" and has had a "discriminatory effect" against him and again called upon Judge Cannon to order additional discovery on the part of the special counsel's office and to hold a hearing on the evidence that has been uncovered.

It highlighted several anecdotes in support of the claim, including public comments in the media by President Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland, actions by high-level employees of the National Archives and Records Administration, apparent coordination on similar prosecutorial efforts in Georgia's Fulton County, and the special counsel's team's apparent violation of Justice Department rules against prosecutorial acts that could interfere with an election, among other things.

"No sitting President has ever successfully pressed for the prosecution of a former President, and his chief political rival, the way that President Biden did -- proudly and publicly -- in 2022," the brief concluded. "NARA has never targeted a former President in the way that the agency targeted President Trump. No law enforcement body has ever raided a former President’s home. DOJ has never even used civil remedies against a former President."

Prior dismissal motions have not been successful

This is not the first time that former President Trump has filed motions to dismiss the charges in the classified documents case, as ABC News reported in March that Judge Cannon rejected a motion to dismiss for "unconstitutional vagueness" of the charged statutes -- albeit without prejudice, meaning it can be filed again later -- and deferred judgment for now on a motion to dismiss based on the Presidential Records Act, though she appeared to express some skepticism toward that argument.

As for the current "selective and vindictive prosecution" dismissal motion, The Center Square reported that Stanford University law professor David Sklansky, a former federal prosecutor, suggested that this effort was a "long shot" with a "high bar" of clearance that Trump would likely have difficulty meeting.

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