Jack Smith Tells Court Trump’s Election Plots Were Not Presidential In Nature


In recent filings with a federal court of appeals in Washington, D.C., that is hearing contentions related to a key criminal case against Donald Trump, the prosecution team — led by Special Counsel Jack Smith — said that Trump’s actions, as alleged, fall well outside the so-called outer perimeter of the presidency. Thus, even allowing certain, limited immunity for presidents and former presidents against criminal prosecution over actions they undertook amid official responsibilities wouldn’t force an end to the charges against Trump dealing with his attempts to stay in power after 2020 despite losing the election.

Trump is claiming wide-reaching immunity that would, in general, cover all actions taken as part of the responsibilities of the president. There are protections from civil liability in certain contexts related to an official performing their duties, but prosecutors also say that such just doesn’t extend to criminal prosecutions.

“But even assuming the Court wished to reserve the possibility of some narrower constitutional protection for former Presidents from prosecution […] such a doctrine would have no application to the defendant, who is alleged to have conspired with private individuals and government officials to use fraudulent means to thwart the transfer of power and remain in office,” the prosecution team said. Smith’s filing explained more fully that the suggested protections from prosecution would specifically cover actions that were part of the job of president.

Oral arguments in the case, meaning arguments actually in court instead of filings, are scheduled for January 9 — meaning there could be a quick turnaround here. Though some in Trump’s political corner have tried to make a big deal out of the Supreme Court refusing a request from Smith to go ahead and intervene in order to move the process along, there’s no clear indication the court’s decision was more than a procedural move — meaning not something indicative of the court’s position on the case’s substance.