Special Counsel Jack Smith hit back at Donald Trump’s attempt to have the Jan. 6 case against him dismissed in a stark Monday reply, characterizing the former president as committing crimes without parallel in American history.
Smith is trying to persuade U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan for the District of Columbia to allow the Jan. 6 prosecution to go forward. Trump filed motions to dismiss last month in which he asked Chutkan to toss the case.
Trump argued in part in the briefs, and more broadly in public in the years since the Capitol insurrection, that his behavior in 2020 was nothing out of the ordinary. All he was doing, Trump has argued, was questioning the election results, a right granted to him under the Constitution.
“But the defendant stands alone in American history for his alleged crimes,” Smith shot back in the filing. “No other president has engaged in conspiracy and obstruction to overturn valid election results and illegitimately retain power.”
Smith cast Trump’s efforts to stay in power after losing in harsh terms. Much of Smith’s rebuttal addresses the sheer uniqueness of Trump’s efforts to reverse his loss in the 2020 election. And that’s a feature of the argument: Trump, Smith argues, cannot credibly say that he didn’t know any better. After all, he’s the only President in American history to try to stay in office after losing. And to do that, he propagated claims that the election was false, even as his top advisers told him that he had lost.
To Smith, that constituted an “unprecedented campaign of deceit to attack the very functioning of the federal government to collect, count, and certify votes.”
“The defendant attempts to rewrite the indictment, claiming that it charges him with wholly innocuous, perhaps even admirable conduct—sharing his opinions about election fraud and seeking election integrity—when in fact it clearly describes the defendant’s fraudulent use of knowingly false statements as weapons in furtherance of his criminal plans,” Smith wrote.
That all culminated in the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol. Trump’s supporters took him literally and sought to physically block Congress from certifying Biden’s victory.
Trump had also argued in a separate motion to dismiss that the case should be thrown out because of the prosecution itself was “selective” and brought for “vindictive” reasons.
Smith replied in another Monday filing that Trump was basing his argument that the Justice Department was acting vindictively on “disparaging comments” alone.
If defendants could use their own criticism of prosecutors to dismiss cases based on their “vindictiveness,” the government wrote, dismissals would become “a ubiquity.
One of the key charges which Trump faces in D.C. is a federal civil rights count: conspiracy against rights, in this case, the right to vote.
Trump has elided that charge, casting his own efforts as contesting the election through the menu of legal options available to him. In Trump’s telling, that includes creating slates of fake electors in states which he lost and then directing them to send certificates to Congress and then-Vice President Mike Pence.
To Smith, this is another example of both an attempt to “obstruct the January 6 congressional proceeding,” and also an effort to “disenfranchise millions of voters.’
That, Smith wrote, took place “all in a concerted criminal effort to overturn the presidential election results and prevent the lawful transfer of power to his successor.”