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Judge rejects Trump’s attempt to hold Jack Smith in contempt in election case

by SuperiorInvest

Special Counsel Jack Smith delivers remarks on a newly unsealed indictment alleging four felonies against former US President Donald Trump, in Washington, DC, on August 1, 2023.

Alex Wong | fake images

A federal judge on Thursday rejected an attempt by former President Donald Trump to hold special counsel Jack Smith in contempt for filing court documents in Trump’s criminal election interference case while the case is on pause.

The order to stay the case pending Trump’s appeal of an unfavorable ruling “did not clearly and unequivocally prohibit” Smith’s actions, Judge Tanya Chutkan wrote in an order in federal court in Washington, DC.

“Maintaining the deadline for filing an application is not the same as affirmatively prohibiting it,” he wrote.

But Chutkan agreed to Trump’s request that Smith and other parties must get his permission before filing further pretrial motions.

Trump spokesman Steven Cheung characterized that decision in a statement as a “strong rebuke” to Smith. But Chutkan’s order noted that the action “does not reflect a determination that the Government has violated any of its clear and unambiguous terms or acted in bad faith.”

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Trump’s lawyers had accused Smith of violating a court order by presenting evidence and filing a motion in the federal election case after deadlines had been suspended.

Smith has sought to expedite the case in which Trump is accused of illegally conspiring to overturn his 2020 election loss to President Joe Biden. Currently, the trial of the case will begin in early March.

The case in federal district court was automatically put on hold last month while Trump appealed Chutkan’s refusal to dismiss his criminal charges on the grounds of presidential immunity.

A panel of federal appeals court judges heard oral arguments last week on Trump’s claim of “absolute immunity” from official presidential acts.

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