Special prosecutor Jack Smith has evidently been working through the holidays, dropping a surprise December 27 filing in the January 6 insurrection case against Donald Trump.
The new document comes on the heels of a disappointment for Smith, after the Supreme Court declined to take up his request for an expedited ruling on Trump’s sweeping claims of immunity. How dramatically the Supreme Court’s move will delay the case is yet to be seen; the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is hearing the immunity claim on an expedited basis, starting January 9. Should Trump’s immunity arguments — which have already been rejected by a federal district judge — be upheld, the entire case could be tossed.
In the meantime, the bulk of the Jan. 6 case has been put on pause while the immunity question is litigated. But Smith on Wednesday chose to file through the stay, submitting a 20-page document detailing the “evidence” Trump should not be allowed to submit, calling it both irrelevant to the case and at risk of tainting the jury.
“Following his indictment in this District, the defendant has made unsupported and politicized claims of selective and vindictive prosecution, indicated that he intends to explore irrelevant issues related to the Government’s investigation, and complained that the grand jury’s indictment and the Court’s trial date will interfere with his political activities,” Smith wrote. “None of these issues goes to the defendant’s guilt or innocence; all of them should be excluded.”
Smith cited data points including Trump’s “intention to blame the events of January 6 on the Capitol Police, National Guard, and the District’s Mayor,” his argument that foreign actors — not him — riled up the Jan. 6 rioters and his constant refrain, both publicly and in court filings, that the entire trial is a political witch hunt.
Smith got particularly heated when detailing Trump’s attempts to shift the blame for Jan. 6 onto law enforcement.
“A bank robber cannot defend himself by blaming the bank’s security guard for failing to stop him,” he wrote. “A fraud defendant cannot claim to the jury that his victims should have known better than to fall for his scheme. And the defendant cannot argue that law enforcement should have prevented the violence he caused and obstruction he intended.”
Trump’s team may ask U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan to instruct Smith to stop filing while the case is stayed. But Smith’s move reads as a tactical one. While the filing may not move the case along — Chutkan would be expected not to read it during the stay — it conveys his eagerness to get arguments rolling on a timeline that’ll produce a pre-2024 verdict. It’s also a bit of media savvy; while Chutkan won’t read the filing, no such prohibition restrains news outlets from reporting on it. And perhaps most rankling to Trump’s lawyers, it compels them to reply or risk leaving Smith’s arguments unrebutted.
Trump, as evidenced by a Wednesday statement, is not pleased by Smith’s move.
“Crooked Joe Biden’s errand boy Deranged Jack Smith is so obsessed with attacking President Trump and interfering with the 2024 Presidential Election, and is so sad that the Supreme Court just unanimously rejected his desperate attempt to rush this Witch Hunt, that he is ignoring the law and clear instructions from District Court Judge Chutkan, who unequivocally stated that this ‘case’ is stayed and there should be no litigation. Period,” his statement said.
Read Smith’s filing here: