(NationalUSNews.com) — The federal judge overseeing former President Donald Trump’s election interference case has denied Trump’s request to hold Jack Smith, the special counsel involved in the case, in contempt of court. Trump requested the contempt charge due to Smith’s submission of court documents after the judge temporarily stayed the case, raising ethical concerns about Smith using his position as special counsel for an advantage over Trump’s defense. Judge Tanya Chutkan defended her decision to deny Trump’s request, claiming that the temporary order to stay the case didn’t prohibit Smith’s submission of court filings.
Despite finding that Smith didn’t act against court rules, Chutkan did acknowledge the slight advantage Smith gained from filing documents after Chutkan stayed the case. According to Chutkan, Trump’s defense team faces an extra burden by having to adjust their strategy due to Smith’s actions. Chutkan clarified that the burden wasn’t a “major” setback for Trump’s team but granted an additional request from Trump, which limits Smith’s ability to file any pretrial motions without her permission. Chutkan also said that her decision to grant the request wasn’t an acknowledgment of Smith or the United States government acting in bad faith.
Trump’s team also demanded that Chutkan compel Smith to explain why he shouldn’t be held in contempt or forced to withdraw his new motions against the former president. Trump’s attorneys are also arguing that Smith should pay the court costs to Trump due to the extra cost of preparing a brief requesting Chutkan’s interference.
According to John Lauro, one of Trump’s attorneys, Smith acted unethically and in a partisan manner by filing motions after case deadlines and entering additional exhibits into evidence without prior knowledge of Trump’s team. The accusations of prosecutorial misconduct could hinder Smith’s court appearances moving forward due to his status as special counsel in the nationally covered legal battle.
Smith responded to the contempt request and criticism from Trump’s team, stating that his office would comply with Chutkan’s new order and inform every involved party about additional court filings or evidence moving forward. The legal battle relates to allegations that Trump illegally conspired to overturn the 2020 presidential election and the widespread accusations of voter fraud following President Biden’s victory. Trump’s election interference trial will start on March 4th, but some legal experts expect further delays in the coming weeks.
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