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Former ‘19 Kids and Counting’ star Josh Duggar is seeking to have federal child pornography charges against him dismissed on the grounds that former President Donald Trump "unlawfully" appointed Homeland Security officials.
The investigation into Duggar has been headed by the Department of Homeland Security since 2019, leading to his April arrest, as previously reported. Duggar has pleaded not guilty to one count of receipt of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography in a federal court.
In recent months, Duggar’s defense has filed several motions, including a motion to compel federal prosecutors for information pertaining to the arresting officers, and a request to move the trial into 2022.
Now, Duggar and his defense team note that during the 2019 investigation, Homeland Security was led by Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan, and, subsequently, Chad Wolf, both of whom were found by the U.S. Government Accountability Office to be unlawfully appointed by Trump.
“As the actions by DHS HSI in this case were all conducted under the authority of individuals who were acting as Officers of the United States in violation of both the Appointments Clause and the applicable federal statutory scheme for temporary officeholders, the investigation proceeded without lawful authority,” Duggar’s attorney, Justin Gelfand, stated in a 14-page motion to dismiss, as cited by Law & Crime. “Because Appointments Clause violations are structural in nature, Duggar need not show prejudice to obtain relief.”
The defense also filed a motion to suppress evidence obtained by Homeland Security Agent Gerald Faulkner on Friday. According to the court filing, the defense alleges that Faulkner questioned Duggar after he’d already requested an attorney.
In the motion, Gelfand cited previous under-oath testimony made by Agent Faulkner at the detention hearing, stating that Duggar had expressed he "wanted to call his lawyer" and took his phone out of his pocket to do so when authorities seized the phone from him."
Duggar has maintained his innocence since federal agents raided a Springdale, Arkansas car dealership, Wholesale Motorcars, where the defendant worked back in 2019, according to KNWA News. U.S. Marshals arrested him on child pornography charges.
Alleged content found on Duggar’s computer was described by Agent Faulkner in court as ranking “in the top five of the worst, worst I’ve ever had to examine,” according to USA Today. Content allegedly included depictions of sexual abuse against minors as young as 18 months old.
Duggar faces up to 20 years behind bars if convicted.
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