OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Special counsel Jack Smith complained in a court filing on Tuesday that former President Donald Trump’s statements in his alleged election interference case were tainting a potential jury pool.
Smith wrote in his filing in a DC court that Trump’s “daily extrajudicial statements could threaten to prejudice the jury pool” in his case.
“The allegation arose in a court fight that remains largely under seal, so additional details are not public. The brief reference to Trump’s statements affecting the jury pool at the Washington, DC, courthouse came in a public filing in the federal criminal case,” CNN reported.
The outlet added: “Smith’s office has been sparring with Trump’s team over how much of the underlying sealed dispute should be made public. Prosecutors tried earlier Tuesday to file court documents partially under seal – and partially on the public docket. But Trump’s team argued that the filings should not be posted to the court’s public docket until they have 14 days to respond – the amount of time set out by default court rules.”
Smith’s team fired back: “Such a requirement would grind litigation in this case to a halt, which is particularly infeasible given the pressing matters before the Court — including the defendant’s daily extrajudicial statements that threaten to prejudice the jury pool in this case, as described in the Government’s motion.
U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan has directed both parties to submit further legal briefs regarding the posting of the underlying Smith submission on the docket. The deadline for the Trump brief is September 11, and prosecutors are required to file a reply brief by September 13, CNN noted.
She also said either party could file their brief under seal.
Previously, Chutkan ordered the trial to begin on March 4, 2024, after Trump’s team sought to extend the date past next year’s presidential election and into 2026.
A growing number of legal experts on the left and right are coming to Trump’s defense after Smith filed felony charges against the former president over alleged actions stemming from the Capitol riot.
In an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, Georgetown Law School professor Jonathan Turley suggested that the Biden administration’s ongoing persecution of Trump is wearing thin with a sizeable portion of the American public that increasingly sees the cases as entirely political.
“This is a free speech-killing indictment. There’s no way around it. I write a great deal in academia in the free-speech area, and I have rarely seen a more chilling filing by the Department of Justice,” Turley said.
“The question that people have to ask themselves is, when is the price too high? People are enraged, but what is the price too high to bag Donald Trump? This indictment is a prohibitive cost. Meaning what they are attempting to do is criminalize what they consider to be disinformation,” he added.
“And I have to tell you, this indictment is a really sad moment for me. I hoped that Smith is going to indict on January 6th, that he would find unassailable evidence and unquestioned legal authority. He has neither in this indictment,” Turley added.
“This is a speaking indictment but it doesn’t say very much. It just says that we think Trump is lying and that he didn’t believe this. I can’t tell you how faciously ridiculous this claim is. It starts by saying, of course, you can say false things in the campaign, but then says that Trump knew they were false. Is that the test going forward in terms of criminalizing political speech?” Turley, a noted liberal, continued.
“Smith is just not only going to have to just bulldoze through the First Amendment, he’s going to have to bulldoze through a line of cases by the Supreme Court,” he said.