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NEWSWEEK: Trump Has New Support From Ex-Attorneys General in Fight Against Jack Smith

In a court filing on Monday, former United States attorneys general said they want to participate in oral arguments urging for a dismissal of the classified document charges against former President Donald Trump.

Edwin Meese III and Michael Mukasey, the 75th and 81st attorneys general of the U.S., respectively, in the court filing in the Southern District of Florida’s West Palm Beach Division want to orally argue in Trump’s defense on June 21 as amici curiae “to dismiss the indictment based on the unlawful appointment and funding of Special Counsel Jack Smith.”

Meese, 92, served as a counselor for former President Ronald Reagan before representing the administration as attorney general starting in February 1985. Mukasey, 82, was sworn in as former President George W. Bush’s attorney general in November 2007.

The pair are joined by law professors Steven Calabresi and Gary Lawson, both of whom co-founded The Federalist Society, in addition to public-interest organizations Citizens United and Citizens United Foundation.

Newsweek reached out to all individuals, in addition to the Department of Justice (DOJ), via email for comment.

Trump, the presumptive Republican 2024 presidential nominee, has pleaded not guilty after being indicted by DOJ special counsel Jack Smith last June for illegally retaining classified materials and storing them at his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida after he vacated the White House in January 2021. He is accused of obstructing federal attempts to retrieve them.

The trial was scheduled to begin on May 20, but is currently delayed until further notice due to legal questions, with the growing belief that a trial will not occur prior to the presidential election.

Last week, Trump was convicted by a Manhattan jury on 34 counts of falsification of business records. His sentencing date is scheduled for July 11, days before the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee. Trump has maintained his innocence and says the case is politically motivated. His legal team says they will fight the case, which will include an appeal, if necessary.

According to the filing, Meese—currently the Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow Emeritus at the Heritage Foundation—wants to argue on how the DOJ has traditionally authorized independent counsels by statute and believes “it differs from the position of Special Counsel held by Jack Smith.”

“This Court would benefit from Attorney General Meese’s knowledge on Justice Department operations, legal authorities, and longstanding interpretations of the underlying relevant constitutional and statutory sources of the purported appointment authority at issue here,” the filing states.

Mukasey also wants to employ his legal background in arguing how current U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland lacked the “authority” to empower Smith as special counsel.

On April 25, during oral arguments in front of the Supreme Court, Trump’s legal counsel invoked the names of Meese and Mukasey as part of the former president’s other criminal case being led by Smith in which Trump is accused of federal election interference in relation to his actions surrounding the results of the 2020 election and the January 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riot.

During those arguments, Justice Clarence Thomas asked Trump’s counsel, “Did you, in this litigation, challenge the appointment of special counsel?”

Trump’s counsel reportedly responded in part, “We have done so in the Southern District of Florida case, and we totally agree with the analysis provided by Attorney General Meese and Attorney General Mukasey.”

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Citizens United Foundation