(NEW YORK) — Former President Donald Trump, in a new court filing Monday, again urged a Georgia judge to dismiss his Fulton County election interference charges on First Amendment grounds, arguing that the indictment against him is “categorically invalid” because it seeks to criminalize “core political speech.”
“President Trump enjoys the same robust First Amendment rights as every other American,” said the new filing from Trump attorneys Steve Sadow and Jennifer Little. “The indictment here does not merely criminalize conduct with an incidental impact on protected speech; instead, it directly targets core protected political speech and activity.”
The new filing supports the arguments Trump’s attorneys previously made in court during a hearing earlier this month, in which they said the indictment “violates free speech.”
“The indictment needs to be dismissed,” Sadow told the court during the Dec. 1 hearing.
In Friday’s filing, Trump’s attorneys argue that the First Amendment “not only embraces but encourages” the type of actions Trump undertook in Georgia — including urging Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in his infamous phone call to “find” enough votes for Trump to overcome his loss in the state.
“Because the claim the 2020 election was rigged and stolen is protected by First Amendment when it is made in a public speech, it is equally protected by the First Amendment when it is made to government officials in an act of petitioning or advocacy,” the filing states.
Trump’s attorney also argue in the filing that the Fulton County indictment only charges Trump for speech and advocacy actions — all of which, they claim, is protected under the First Amendment.
“The Fulton County prosecutors have not identified any non-speech or non- advocacy conduct in the allegations against President Trump,” it said. “Every charge and overt act alleged against President Trump rests on core acts of political speech and advocacy that lie at the heart of the First Amendment.”
The speech is still protected, the attorneys argue, even if Trump’s statements were false.
“Under the First Amendment, the Government may not prohibit or criminalize speech on disputed social, political, and historical issues simply because the Government determines that some views are ‘true’ and others are ‘false,'” the filing said. “The fact that the prosecution alleges the speech was ‘false’ does not change that conclusion, particularly within the political context.”
Trump and 18 others pleaded not guilty in August to all charges in the Fulton County district attorney’s sweeping racketeering indictment for alleged efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in the state of Georgia. Four co-defendants have subsequently taken plea deals in exchange for agreeing to testify against other defendants.
The former president has dismissed the district attorney’s investigation as being politically motivated.
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