Trump legal news brief: Trump’s lawyers say he did not take an oath ‘to support the Constitution’
In a filing made to the Colorado Supreme Court, lawyers for former President Donald Trump say that he never took an oath “to support the Constitution of the United States,’’ and should therefore not be banned from the state’s presidential ballots in 2024 based on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. In the New York financial fraud civil trial, an executive with Deutsche Bank testifies about the favorable loan rates the bank gave Trump and the decision to part ways with one of their most famous clients. Here are the latest developments in the legal cases involving the man looking to return to the White House.
Jan. 6 election interference
Trump’s lawyers say he never took oath ‘to support the Constitution’
Filings submitted to the Colorado Supreme Court this week from lawyers for Trump and CREW presented opposing views on whether Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol violated his oath of office and, under Section 3 of the 14th amendment of the Constitution, made him ineligible to run again, .
Section 3 bars those found to have engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” and who had previously taken an oath “to support the Constitution” from holding elected office again. But Trump’s lawyers argued it was not applicable due to the stature of the presidency and the wording of the oath.
“Section Three does not apply, because the presidency is not an office ‘under the United States,’ the president is not an ‘officer of the United States,’ and President Trump did not take an oath ‘to support the Constitution of the United States,’” Trump’s lawyers wrote.
Instead, the lawyers noted, Trump swore “to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.”
CREW, which is representing six Colorado voters appealing Wallace’s ruling that Trump’s name could remain on state ballots, argued Trump’s argument was merely semantic.
“The Constitution explicitly tells us, over and over, that the Presidency is an ‘office.’ The natural meaning of ‘officer of the United States’ is anyone who holds a federal ‘office.’ And the natural reading of ‘oath to support the Constitution’ includes the stronger Presidential oath to ‘preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution.’”
The court has scheduled a hearing to hear arguments in the matter on Dec. 6.
Why it matters: Whatever the Colorado Supreme Court decides, their ruling will likely be appealed and the case will likely make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. At the heart of the case is the question of what limits the Constitution puts on presidential power.
New York financial fraud
Deutsche Bank executive testifies about ending relationship with Trump
Key players: Former Deutsche Bank managing director , New York Attorney General , Judge
In testimony Wednesday, the court saw evidence that Vrablic expressed concern about the public nature of Trump’s 2012 acquisition of the Old Post Office building in Washington, D.C., fearing the deal might publicize the favorable loan terms offered by the bank,.
“Will our terms and conditions with you be made public? Not a credit issue, but we want to be prepared if ‘other clients’ see it and ask for the same deal,” Vrablic wrote in a 2013 email shown at trial.
“He was president of the United States — going to become president of the United States — and the bank’s position was they did not want to increase its exposure at that time,” Vrablic testified.
Earlier, however, Vrablic described efforts the bank made to court Trump’s business, and disclosed that it made millions off of loans to his business.
Trump’s lawyers argue that there was no crime committed because he kept up payments on the loans and the lenders were happy with the arrangement.
In her $250 million lawsuit, James alleges that Trump reaped more than $1 billion in profits by lying about his financial condition to banks and insurers, who then gave him favorable terms for loans and rates.
Engoron, who has already ruled Trump, his adult sons and their family business committed fraud, said this week that “The mere fact that the lenders were happy doesn’t mean the statute wasn’t violated.”
Why it matters: While the trial will decide what penalties the defendants must pay after being found liable for fraud, Engoron will also rule on James’ argument that the Trump Organization should be barred from purchasing New York real estate for five years and that Trump and his adult sons should not be permitted to serve as officers of any company in the state, .
Tuesday, Nov. 28
In a new court filing, lawyers for former President Donald Trump make their case that former Vice President Mike Pence spoke to special counsel Jack Smith’s team in an effort to “curry favor” and avoid being charged in a Justice Department investigation into Pence’s handling of classified documents. A new report recounts what Pence told Smith, including his decision to oversee the certification of the Electoral College tally showing that Joe Biden won the 2020 election despite his view that doing so would be “hurtful” to Trump. Meanwhile, the judge in the election subversion case denies a Trump motion requesting records from the House Jan. 6 select committee and seeking testimony from its members and witnesses.
Jan. 6 election interference
In a filing, Trump says Pence cooperated with the special counsel to avoid charges in a documents inquiry
In a Monday court filing, Trump’s lawyers accused Pence of trying to “curry favor” with Smith’s team “by providing information that is consistent with the Biden Administration’s preferred, and false, narrative regarding this case,” Rolling Stone reported.
Trump’s filing noted that the Justice Department closed its investigation into Pence’s handling of classified documents in June without filing any charges against him, implying, without evidence, that the former vice president’s testimony had factored into that decision.
In the filing, Trump’s lawyers requested that Smith provide information into the decision not to charge Pence.
Trump is charged with 40 felony counts for his handling of classified documents after leaving the White House, including 32 violations of the Espionage Act and eight charges alleging efforts to obstruct the investigation.
Two Trump employees, Nauta and De Oliveira have also been charged with aiding the efforts to obstruct the recovery of the documents.
Pence and President Joe Biden both cooperated fully with investigators seeking the return of otherdocuments with classified markings.
Why it matters: Smith is likely to call Pence to the witness stand in the election interference case against Trump that is scheduled to begin on March 4, and the former president is attempting to discredit him beforehand.
What Pence told Smith’s team
Key players: former Vice President Mike Pence, special counsel Jack Smith, President Joe Biden
In interviews with Smith’s team conducted earlier this year, Pence described the pressure Trump applied to persuade him to refuse to certify the Electoral College votes showing Biden had won the 2020 election, sources told ABC News.
While Pence told Trump in December of 2020 that he saw no evidence that the election was “stolen,” he considered simply not showing up on Jan. 6, 2021, to certify the results because doing so would be “too hurtful to my friend.”
“Not feeling like I should attend electoral count,” Pence wrote in notes he wrote to himself obtained by ABC News. “Too many questions, too many doubts, too hurtful to my friend. Therefore I’m not going to participate in certification of election.”
But Pence, who will almost certainly be called by Smith as a witness in the election subversion case against the former president, ultimately informed Trump that he would oversee the certification.
“I told him I thought there was no idea more un-American than the idea that any one person could decide what electoral votes to count,” Pence allegedly told Smith’s team, according to sources. “I made it very plain to him that it was inconsistent with our history and tradition.”
Why it matters: Pence is the highest-ranking member of the Trump administration who will testify in the case. He will be able to describe firsthand conversations he had with Trump prior to the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and the efforts to subvert the election results.
Judge denies Trump motion for Jan. 6 committee records
On Monday, Chutkan denied a motion filed in October by Trump’s lawyers that sought records from the House Jan. 6 select committee’s investigation and the issuance of subpoenas for some of its Democratic members and witnesses, BBC News reported.
Trump’s request, Chutkan wrote, provided only a “vague description of their potential relevance” that the records and subpoenas would provide. She also noted that the transcripts of video interviews with witnesses had already been given to Trump’s lawyers.
In their October motion, Trump’s lawyers said they sought “missing materials” relating to the 2020 election. But Chutkan called the request a “fishing expedition.”
Trump is charged with four felony counts relating to his efforts to subvert the 2020 election results.
In a Monday appeals court filing, lawyers for former President Donald Trump argue that hundreds of recent threats made against Judge Arthur Engoron and his law clerk do not justify keeping a gag order in place in the New York financial fraud trial of Trump, his adult sons and their family business. While Trump already faces 91 felony charges, he could yet see even more pending the results of ongoing state investigations in at least four states into the fake elector scheme to keep him in power. Here is the latest legal maneuvering in the criminal and civil cases facing the man seeking to become the next president.
New York financial fraud
Trump lawyers: Threats to judge and his clerk don’t justify gag order
On Monday, lawyers for Trump said in a court filing that threats made toward Engoron and Greenfield by Trump’s supporters did not justify keeping a gag order put in place by the judge of the financial fraud trial, CNN reported.
“At base, the disturbing behavior engaged in by anonymous, third-party actors towards the judge and Principal Law Clerk publicly presiding over an extremely polarizing and high-profile trial merits appropriate security measures,” the filing stated. “However, it does not justify the wholesale abrogation of Petitioners’ First Amendment rights in a proceeding of immense stakes to Petitioners, which has been compromised by the introduction of partisan bias on the bench.”
Engoron’s gag order, which the appeals court has paused until it issues a final ruling on the matter, was designed to prevent Trump from attacking the judge’s staff.
Since the October start of the trial, Engoron and Greenfield have been deluged with threats that have been “serious and credible,” James’s office told the court, with hundreds coming in the past week alone.
Engoron’s clerk receives dozens of messages each day on her personal cellphone, on social media platforms and at her personal email addresses, court papers filed by Engoron’s lawyers stated, about half of them expressing antisemitic views.
Why it matters: Trump has repeatedly criticized Engoron and Greenfield, which James has characterized as a form of intimidation that endangers their safety. Trump’s attorneys counter that leaving the gag order in place is a violation of the former president’s First Amendment rights.
Jan. 6 election interference
More states could file charges stemming from ‘fake elector’ plot to keep Trump in power
State attorneys general in at least four states are continuing to investigate whether to bring charges stemming from the “fake elector” plot to keep Trump in power following his loss in the 2020 election, The Hill reported.
Officials in Arizona, Nevada, Michigan and Pennsylvania are among those weighing whether to charge more people with crimes in the scheme pushed by Eastman for states to certify an alternate slate of electors to try to block Joe Biden’s victory.
In Georgia, Eastman, Shafer, Still and Latham have all been charged with felonies stemming from those efforts. Chesebro, one of the architects of the fake elector plan, has already pleaded guilty and may yet face charges in other states, as have Ellis, Powell and Hall.
Why it matters: Trump and his allies held meetings with officials in multiple states in their efforts to overturn his 2020 losses in key swing states. Already charged with 91 felonies heading into the 2024 Republican primary, he could yet be hit with even more.