On Wednesday, special counsel prosecutor Jack Smith appointed by Biden’s Justice Department requested a judge to prevent former President Donald Trump and his lawyers from using their first amendment rights under the US constitution.
Jack Smith has requested the judge to prevent the Trump defense from interjecting politics into the former president’s trial on allegations of plotting to change the 2020 election results.
In a 20-page filing, Smith’s office told U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan that Trump’s lawyers should be barred from “raising irrelevant political issues or arguments in front of the jury,” such as that the prosecution against him is vindictive and selective or was coordinated by President Joe Biden.
“In addition to being wrong, these allegations are irrelevant to the jury’s determination of the defendant’s guilt or innocence, would be prejudicial if presented to the jury, and must be excluded,” the state’s attorney stated.
Prosecutors are attempting to put limitations on what material they feel the jury should or should not hear when the matter goes to trial by moving to prevent Trump from introducing broad categories of arguments.
It was filed during an appeal of the former president’s assertions that he is immune from prosecution for crimes committed while in the Biden White House.
The Supreme Court declined to get involved in the case for the time being last week, but a federal appeals panel will hear arguments on the topic on January 9. The trial is planned for March 4 in federal court in Washington, although it might be delayed if the immunity issue is appealed.
Later Wednesday, Trump accused Smith’s team of “ignoring the law and clear instructions” from the judge by filing a motion during a pause in the case. He termed the request “pathetic” and a “illegal” attempt to deny him free speech rights at trial by removing his ability to argue that the case is a “political persecution.”
Trump’s attorneys had previously requested that Chutkan dismiss the case on the grounds that the indictment was vindictive and selective. Prosecutors argued in their filing Wednesday that not only should that request be refused, but Trump’s lawyers should be barred from bringing that point to a jury during the trial.
“Although the defendant is entitled to cross-examine the Government’s law enforcement witnesses about matters fairly within the scope of their direct testimony, he cannot raise wholly irrelevant topics in an effort to confuse and distract the jury,” the government argued. “Much as the defendant would like it otherwise, this trial should be about the facts and the law, not politics.”
The motion also seeks to prevent Trump from informing jurors about the potential punishment he could face if convicted, as well as blaming law enforcement agencies for a lack of preparation in advance of the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, when Trump supporters inspired by the then-president’s false claims of voter fraud stormed the building in an attempt to disrupt the certification of electoral votes.
“A bank robber cannot defend himself by blaming the bank’s security guard for failing to stop him,” the prosecutor said. “A fraud defendant cannot tell a jury that his victims should have known better than to fall for his deception.” And the criminal cannot claim that law enforcement should have stopped the violence and obstruction he intended.”
Though Trump’s mental condition as he sought to overturn the results of the election he lost to Biden will be a key subject for jurors, prosecutors said defense attorneys should not be allowed to seek speculative testimony from witnesses about his thoughts or beliefs.
They also stated that he should not be allowed to present any proof about potential foreign influence in the 2020 election.