Updated Jan 4, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Trump lawyers seek to hold Jack Smith in contempt of court in 2020 election case

Special Counsel Jack Smith delivers remarks on a recently unsealed indictment including four felony counts against former U.S. President Donald Trump on August 1, 2023 in Washington, DC

Special Counsel Jack Smith delivers remarks on on Aug. 1 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Former President Trump's legal team on Thursday filed a motion arguing that special counsel Jack Smith should be held in contempt of court for allegedly violating a stay order in the federal 2020 election case.

Why it matters: Trump's team is arguing that Smith and his team continued to submit court filings after Judge Tanya Chutkan ordered a pause to proceedings in the case.

The big picture: The federal 2020 election interference case is currently on hold as Trump's appeals work through the courts.

  • The former president has argued that presidential immunity protects him from prosecution for any crimes he may have committed while in office.
  • Smith elevated the question over Trump's immunity claims to the Supreme Court, which said last month that it will not immediately weigh in on the matter.
  • The charges in the case relate to Trump's alleged efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

What they're saying: "The stay order is clear, straightforward, and unambiguous," Trump attorney John F. Lauro wrote in the filing. "All substantive proceedings in this court are halted. Despite this clarity, the prosecutors began violating the stay almost immediately."

  • Trump's campaign was also quick to release a statement about the effort to "hold deranged Jack in contempt of court." Spokesperson Steven Cheung said: "Rather than respect the rule of law, Jack Smith unilaterally decided to disobey the stay order and continue with his harassing litigation."
  • A spokesperson for the special counsel's office declined to comment on the Thursday filing.

Zoom in: Trump's lawyers asked Chutkan to release an order showing why prosecutors should not be held in contempt or ordered to withdraw the filings they have submitted.

  • Trump's lawyers also asked Chutkan to explain why prosecutors should not be barred from submitting future filings.

What's next: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit is slated to hear oral arguments on the immunity question on Jan. 9.

Go deeper: Jack Smith asks Supreme Court to weigh Trump's immunity argument

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