Sun. Feb 25th, 2024

    Judge rejects Trump’s request to hold Jack Smith in contempt in federal case over 2020 election

    WASHINGTON– The federal judge overseeing the 2020 election interference case against Donald Trump on Thursday rejected his lawyers’ bid to hold special counsel Jack Smith’s team in contempt for actions prosecutors took after the judge suspended the case. But the judge said no more “substantive” court filings should be made without permission.

    The former president’s lawyers had accused prosecutors of “outrageous conduct” for turning over thousands of pages of evidence to the defense and filing a motion after the judge halted the case while Trump appealed his claim to presidential immunity. The defense said prosecutors were violating a court order that stayed the case so Trump could pursue his claim in higher courts.

    U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan said in her ruling Thursday that her Dec. 13 order suspending the case did not “clearly and unequivocally” prohibit those actions by Smith’s team. However, she agreed with Trump to prohibit all parties in the case from filing “any substantive pretrial motions” without first asking the court for permission until the pause is lifted.

    At stake was Chutkan’s order after Trump appealed to a higher court an earlier ruling that rejected his claims that he is immune from prosecution. In her order, Chutkan, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, said Trump’s appeal “automatically stays any further proceedings that would move this case toward trial or impose additional litigation burdens” on Trump.

    The trial is currently scheduled to begin March 4 in federal court in Washington, but is likely to be postponed as Trump’s immunity claim moves through the higher courts. A three-judge panel of the federal appeals court in Washington heard arguments on the issue last week and could rule at any time.

    Prosecutors acknowledged in a filing late last month that the case had been stayed, but said the government would “continue to meet its own deadlines as previously determined” by the court “to promote the prompt resumption of the pretrial schedule.” if and when The case returns to Chutkan.

    The case accusing Trump of conspiring to overturn his 2020 election loss to President Joe Biden is one of four criminal cases the Republican faces as he competes to return to the White House this year.

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