The Justice Department Monday criticized former President Trump for “attempts to sanitize his conduct” leading up to the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, urging a judge to reject several motions to dismiss the case and disentangle Trump from the storming of the building.
The four filings, together more than 100 pages, respond to a series of pretrial motions filed by the Trump team last month asking the judge to toss the former president’s 2020 election case on a number of grounds, ranging from arguments the charges step on his First Amendment rights and that his speech simply amounted to raising concerns about the election to claims he is facing a “vindictive prosecution.”
Prosecutors forcefully defended their indictment while accusing Trump of “perpetrating an unprecedented campaign of deceit.”
“The defendant stands alone in American history for his alleged crimes. No other president has engaged in conspiracy and obstruction to overturn valid election results and illegitimately retain power,” prosecutors on special counsel Jack Smith’s team wrote.
“The defendant attempts to rewrite the indictment, claiming that it charges him with wholly innocuous, perhaps even admirable conduct — sharing his opinions about election fraud and seeking election integrity — when in fact it clearly describes the defendant’s fraudulent use of knowingly false statements as weapons in furtherance of his criminal plans.”
Trump is charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States in the case, as well as two counts related to obstruction of an official proceeding, and conspiracy against rights for taking actions that would deny the counting of lawfully cast votes.
The brief fires back at claims that echo many of Trump’s social media attacks criticizing the unfairness of the indictment against him and accusing prosecutors of launching their case based on animus.
Prosecutors accuse Trump of “deploying bombastic rhetoric rather than legal argument” and note that “the incumbent president has no role in this case,” despite Trump’s claims otherwise.
“There is no evidence that the indictment in this case was returned based upon anything other than the facts and the law,” prosecutors wrote.
“If the defendant is correct in his claim that the indictment is unprecedented, it is only because the defendant’s conduct is unprecedented.”
In another brief, prosecutors fight an attempt by Trump’s legal team to strike from the indictment allegations related to Jan. 6 because he has not faced charges directly connected to the riot itself.
“The Court should recognize the defendant’s motion for what it is: a meritless effort to evade the indictment’s clear allegations that the defendant is responsible for the events at the Capitol on January 6,” they responded.
Prosecutors spent ample time discussing Trump’s role in forwarding false claims about the election being stolen, something they noted came even after a series of trusted advisers told him otherwise and were knowingly used in a plot to block the transfer of power.
“The indictment alleges not ‘lobbying’ but instead a concerted effort to target knowingly false and fraudulent claims at government officials, and then seeking to exploit actions by a violent and chaotic mob, in order to defeat the certification proceeding,” prosecutors wrote.
They also attacked Trump’s efforts to diminish his questioning of the election results, writing that “as a result of his role and access to this information his voice carried more weight.”
Prosecutors also critique another of Trump’s arguments that his election concerns left him as “one voice among countless millions.”
“To the extent that the defendant argues that he cannot be held responsible because no one would have relied on his assertions of fraud, he is wrong; lack of success provides no defense,” they wrote.
“Were it otherwise, defendants captured en route to a bank robbery could not be charged with conspiracy because their crime did not succeed.”