Trump Says He’ll Seek Venue Change in Federal Election Case

Trump Says He’ll Seek Venue Change in Federal Election Case
Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks to guests during a campaign event at the Orpheum Theater in Sioux City, Iowa, on Oct. 29, 2023. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

In a campaign video, former President Donald Trump decried the condition of Washington, D.C., saying that he would reform the district if elected, and now will seek a change in venue for a criminal case against him in the capital if it proceeds.

Special counsel Jack Smith is prosecuting two cases against the former president, now the frontrunner in the race for the GOP presidential candidacy. In Florida, President Trump has been charged with 40 counts in a case alleging he mishandled classified documents.

In Washington, the former president has been charged with four counts alleging he interfered with the 2020 elections.

“Washington D.C., our once beautiful capital, has become a dirty, crime-ridden death trap that must be taken over and properly run by the federal government,” he said. “It is, and will be, part of my election platform. We will clean it, renovate it, rebuilt [sic] it, and most importantly, make it safe.”

The district is heavily Democrat-leaning, and President Trump’s statements about Washington had been cited as the impetus for a gag order motion from the special counsel’s office. The prosecutors argued that President Trump had a large platform, and may influence jurors in his favor if his speech was not limited.

Judge Tanya Chutkan, presiding over the case, ultimately issued a different gag order that did not prohibit President Trump from making statements about Washington or the government in general.

“With this in mind, there is no way I can get a fair trial in a Biden election interference indictment,” President Trump said in the campaign video. “This was a Biden indictment. Biden, my political opponent, indicted me because I challenged the election, and other ridiculous reasons.”

President Trump’s attorneys are currently seeking to dismiss the case, having filed four separate motions to dismiss the case on different grounds. They argue the prosecution is “vindictive,” as President Joe Biden had made remarks about keeping President Trump from taking office again, and special counsel Jack Smith was appointed three days after President Trump declared his intent to run for president in 2024.

“Obviously, at the appropriate time, if this ridiculous case should be allowed to proceed forward, which is, according to legal scholars quite doubtful, I will be making a demand for a venue change,” he said. “It’s a very unfair witch hunt, but we are going to win and we are going to make America great again.”

Should Judge Chutkan reject the motions to dismiss, President Trump’s team is likely to appeal the decisions.

Motions to Dismiss

The judge had previously rejected a motion to recuse herself from the case. Defense attorneys argued she had made statements in previous Jan. 6-related cases that pointed to pre-judging President Trump as guilty. She had not mentioned President Trump by name in those statements.

The judge ruled that she had not exhibited the kind of bias that would prevent her from presiding over the case, and the statements were made during official judicial proceedings.

On Oct. 5, President Trump filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing he had the absolute immunity conferred to a U.S. president, which protected even the actions on the “outer perimeter” of their official duties. Attorneys argued his actions were firmly within the purview of his office as president, as he was investigating allegations of election fraud.

Then on Oct. 23, attorneys filed three more motions to dismiss, citing statutory grounds, constitutional grounds, and for “selective and vindictive prosecution.” Another motion was filed to strike inflammatory allegations from the indictment.

These latest filings asserted in strong terms that the defense believed the case to be entirely politically motivated, and accused the prosecutors of misleading and “inflammatory” speech that sought to connect President Trump to the Capitol breach and violence that occurred on Jan. 6, 2021.

“The public has high awareness of, and strong views regarding, the actions at the Capitol on January 6, 2021,” the filing reads. “Allegations in the indictment relating to these actions, when President Trump has not been charged with responsibility for them, is highly prejudicial and inflammatory because members of the jury may wrongfully impute fault to President Trump for these actions.”

Jan. 6 Cases

The allegation that President Trump encouraged or participated in unlawful activity on Jan. 6, 2021, has become a legal theory being tested in several states across the nation.

A number of left-leaning groups have sued the former president and state election officials on behalf of local voters, arguing in civil petitions that President Trump should be taken off the primary ballots because he participated in an “insurrection” or “rebellion” on Jan. 6, 2021.

The Fourteenth Amendment, ratified after the Civil War, included a section that barred those who engaged in “insurrection” or “rebellion” against the nation from holding office, unless they received two-thirds approval from Congress. The text of the U.S. Constitution does not provide additional information as to how this would be carried out, or which body held jurisdiction over determining a disqualification.

Some states have already thrown out such petitions, while other are underway and more could still proceed to court. A trial in Colorado began this Monday, and another will begin in Minnesota this Thursday.

In Colorado, attorneys with the progressive Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington group sought to establish that President Trump encouraged violence that day, and that the event constituted a violent “insurrection” or “rebellion.”

The matter is expected to ultimately be settled in the U.S. Supreme Court, as state decisions in either direction will likely be appealed.

From The Epoch Times

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