Federal Prosecutors Push For Blocking Trump Appeals In Criminal Case

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Federal prosecutors are seeking a written decision from Judge Tanya Chutkan that could significantly curtail the ability of former President Donald Trump to make appeals in a key criminal case. The case, brought by Special Counsel Jack Smith, accuses Trump of criminally targeting the presidential election results from 2020.

The point of concern for prosecutors is the Trump team’s promotion of the idea that the case from Smith should be taken as disallowed double jeopardy considering Trump’s acquittal by the Senate at his second impeachment trial. That impeachment case dealt with Trump’s conduct around the 2020 elections, and the Smith case covers similar behavior — but besides the clear distinctions in the legal processes for the respective cases, the specific allegations are also different. The impeachment case accused Trump of inciting the 2021 violence at the Capitol, while Smith’s case focuses on the ex-president’s targeting of the 2020 election results. The special counsel accuses Trump of threatening government operations and everyday Americans’ right to vote.

A new filing from the feds references a precedent allowing for speedy handling of certain appeals, asking for related action. “Consistent with the procedure described above, the Court should conclude in written findings that the defendant’s double-jeopardy claim is wholly without merit. The defendant does not even argue that removal and disqualification constitute criminal penalties sufficient to implicate the Double Jeopardy Clause,” prosecutors contended. And for Chutkan to make such a formal finding would seemingly massively speed up the handling of any appeals from Trump on the double jeopardy question.

“The defendant’s wholly meritless double-jeopardy claim should not, therefore, divest this Court of jurisdiction in a manner that risks delaying the trial,” the prosecutors added. That sort of scenario could unfold if a Trump appeal in this area was instead handled more per normal procedure. Meanwhile, prosecutors also rebuffed in this filing arguments from Trump about free speech protections from the Constitution supposedly covering his conduct. Smith’s team pointed to a long history of allowances for applying criminal law to speech when in certain contexts. Read the full filing here.