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Trump’s team again seeks dismissal of classified documents charges

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(The Center Square) – Former President Donald Trump’s legal team on Thursday asked a federal judge to toss out the charges in the classified documents case in Florida for selective and vindictive prosecution.

“This case reflects the type of selective and vindictive prosecution that cannot be tolerated,” Trump’s defense team wrote in a 178-page motion filed in the Florida case.

In the motion, Trump’s team argues that he has been treated differently than Presidents Joe Biden, Bill Clinton; former Vice President Mike Pence; former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; former FBI Director James Comey; Ret. Gen. David Petraeus; former National Security Advisor Samuel Berger; former Deputy Secretary of Defense John Deutch and Trump’s former White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Deborah Birx.

“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,” Trump’s team wrote.

The defense attorneys first point to Biden’s handling of classified documents. President Joe Biden shared government secrets with his ghostwriter, but prosecutors don’t plan to charge him with a crime, according to a special counsel report released in February. That report found evidence that Biden “willfully retained and disclosed classified materials after his vice presidency when he was a private citizen” but Special Counsel Robert Hur said the evidence “does not establish Mr. Biden’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”

In the federal case in Florida, Trump has pleaded not guilty to 40 felony counts that allege he kept sensitive military documents, shared them with people who didn’t have security clearance, and tried to evade the government’s attempts to get them back.

Trump’s defense attorneys said Trump was treated differently.

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

Special Counsel Jack Smith’s team of prosecutors has previously argued that Biden’s handling of classified documents was distinguishable from allegations against Trump.

“Most notably, Trump, unlike Biden, is alleged to have engaged in extensive and repeated efforts to obstruct justice and thwart the return of documents bearing classification markings,” prosecutors wrote. “And the evidence concerning the two men’s intent – whether they knowingly possessed and willfully retained such documents – is also starkly different.”

Trump’s motion for dismissal for selective prosecution could be a long shot, said David Alan Sklansky, a Stanford University criminal law professor and former federal prosecutor.

“It’s a high bar, and Trump doesn’t appear to have any chance of meeting the requirements,” Sklansky previously told The Center Square.

At a minimum, Trump’s attorneys argue a hearing on the matter is needed.

“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,” defense attorneys wrote. “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.”

Trump’s team also wants prosecutors to turn over all documents “reflecting political animus toward President Trump” including emails, text messages, and all electronic communications by members of the prosecution team, including on private devices and accounts.

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