Donald Trump’s legal team demanded Thursday that special counsel Jack Smith’s office be held in contempt for allegedly flouting a DC judge’s stay of further proceedings in the 2020 election subversion case against the former president.
In a 15-page motion, attorney John Lauro contended that Smith’s office continued to submit filings to Judge Tanya Chutkan in violation of the pause she ordered while the 77-year-old Trump’s challenge to the case against him makes its way through the courts.
“President Trump has filed a powerhouse motion to hold Crooked Joe Biden’s henchman, Deranged Jack Smith, in contempt of Court for repeatedly violating the stay order in the Washington DC J6 Witch Hunt,” Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung said in a statement.
“Rather than respect the rule of law, Jack Smith unilaterally decided to disobey the stay order and continue with his harassing litigation,” Cheung went on. “No prosecutor is above the law.”
The motion specifically calls on the court to “show cause” for why prosecutors haven’t been held in contempt or why they shouldn’t face “monetary sanctions.”
Last month, Chutkan ruled that “any further proceedings that would move this case towards trial or impose additional burdens of litigation on defendant” would be halted while the question of whether Trump enjoys immunity from the charges against him is decided.
Chutkan had sided with Smith and rejected Trump’s argument that he was carrying out his official duties in arguing that widespread voter fraud had robbed him of a second term.
In response, Trump’s team challenged that decision to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, pushing both the immunity argument and a second argument that Trump’s impeachment by the House of Representatives on a charge of inciting an insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, renders Smith’s prosecution double jeopardy.
In the Thursday filing, Trump’s attorneys alleged that “the prosecutors repeatedly engaged in that exact conduct, disobeying the Stay Order at least three times in just two weeks.”
Lauro noted that Smith’s office furnished roughly 4,000 pages of “additional discovery” on Dec. 17, 2023, and then put out an exhibit list the next day.
Then on Dec. 27, 2023, Smith’s team called on the court to exclude certain evidence expected from the defense that prosecutors said “make arguments that are improper.”
“The prosecutors have no justification for their misconduct,” the filing said.
“The stay order is clear, straightforward, and unambiguous,” Trump’s lawyers added. “All substantive proceedings in this court are halted. Despite this clarity, the prosecutors began violating the stay almost immediately.”
Trump’s trial in the 2020 election case is tentatively scheduled to begin March 4, and Smith’s office is proceeding as though that schedule will stick.
Last month, Smith’s team sought to leapfrog the DC appeals court and get the US Supreme Court to expeditiously weigh in on the immunity matter, but the high court declined to do so.
Regardless of how the appeals court rules, that decision will almost certainly be appealed to the Supreme Court, further delaying the trial.
“The Court should require that the prosecutors seek and obtain permission from the Court before submitting any filings or productions for the duration of the Stay Order to ensure that any further attempts to violate the Stay Order will be summarily denied,” Trump’s team wrote Thursday.
Trump, the 2024 GOP frontrunner, is facing a total of 91 criminal counts spanning four separate cases. He has denied wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty in all of them.
The DC appeals court is slated to hear the former president’s immunity claim next week.
Additional reporting by Joshua Christenson.