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Trump’s legal fight enters new phase that could affect outcome of Florida case as defense challenges prosecutor’s authority


Florida – After claiming “selective and vindictive prosecution” in the Florida classified documents case earlier this month and previously attempting to dismiss the case based on the Presidential Records Act, which Judge Aileen Cannon rejected earlier in April, former President Donald Trump has once again drawn national attention with another attempt to have the case dismissed.

Trump’s legal fight enters new phase that could affect outcome of Florida case as defense challenges prosecutor’s authority

Trump’s Team Challenge Special Counsel’s Appointment

Former President Donald Trump’s legal team is poised to challenge the legitimacy of the special counsel overseeing his case. U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon is scheduled to host a hearing to assess claims regarding Special Counsel Jack Smith’s appointment and whether it violated constitutional norms. The focal point of Trump’s defense revolves around alleged procedural errors in Smith’s appointment by Attorney General Merrick Garland, arguing it infringes on the U.S. Constitution’s stipulations for appointing officials.

Trump’s attorneys, supported by legal scholars including former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese III, constitutional law experts Steven Calabresi, and Gary Lawson, argue in their submissions that Garland exceeded his authority.

They posit that the appointment of Smith, who was a private citizen rather than a government official at the time, did not align with the Constitution’s Appointments Clause. This clause delineates the process for appointing principal or superior officers, who must be confirmed by the Senate, and allows for the appointment of “inferior” officers under specific conditions that Trump’s team claims were not met in Smith’s case.

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The Implications of an Unlawful Appointment

These experts assert that because Smith lacked the official status of a government employee when appointed, his capacity to prosecute is fundamentally flawed and unlawful. They contend that for Smith’s appointment to be constitutionally valid, he should have been a current U.S. Attorney or someone in a similar existing government role. The contention extends to a broader concern articulated by Calabresi, suggesting that a precedent allowing such appointments could lead to future abuses of power.

“If Smith is not an officer, as so defined, his prosecuting anyone is entirely unlawful,” argued Professor Seth Barrett Tillman, echoing a sentiment that resonates deeply with Trump’s defense strategy. This legal approach suggests that even if Smith secures a conviction against Trump, the Supreme Court might overturn it due to the foundational appointment irregularities.

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Adding to the complexity, Smith also handles another significant case against Trump, concerning allegations that he incited the riot on January 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol. This dual role further scrutinizes the legitimacy of his appointment and the potential consequences for Trump’s legal battles.

Calabresi’s critique extends beyond the immediate legal battle, cautioning against future scenarios where U.S. Attorneys General could appoint private citizens as prosecutors, which he views as a dangerous expansion of power.

“Every action that he has taken since his appointment is now null and void. We do not want future U.S. Attorney Generals, such as the ones Donald Trump might appoint, if he is re-elected in 2024, to be able to pick any tough thug lawyer off the street and empower him in the way Attorney General Merrick Garland has empowered private citizen Jack Smith” said Calabresi.

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As the hearing approaches, the legal community and the public alike await Judge Cannon’s decision, which could significantly impact the trajectory of Trump’s multiple legal challenges and have broader implications for the Justice Department’s appointment practices.

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