One has to wonder if Special Counsel Jack Smith checks under his bed every night to make sure there isn’t a grown man in an oversized blue suit, long red tie and MAGA hat.
Smith, the audience has been make sure, is a edgy prosecutor who has faced some of the world’s most dangerous criminals during his time at the US Department of Justice and The Hague. Following Smith’s appointment in November 2022, a former colleague passed out to the News from New York how Smith “has a way of projecting calm” and that “people look to him for constant guidance.”
But his recent behavior suggests Smith may be losing control. Tasked with overseeing the two criminal investigations into Donald Trump — the events of January 6 and the possession of alleged classified material — Smith continues to make outlandish allegations about the former president in court motions. Those claims include warnings that Trump is a flight risk, is endangering the safety of government officials and poisoning the D.C. jury pool with his social media posts, and “could precipitate violence” if his secrets were revealed. sealed search warrants.
Smith’s independent assessment of Trump’s reality is evident in June 2023 accusation against Trump for allegedly illegally withholding national defense information. Using the most hyperbolic language possible to describe the 300 files with “classified markings” in storage boxes at Mar-a-Lago – most of which were turned over by Trump himself – Smith claimed that the “disclosure does not authorized release of these classified documents could jeopardize the national security of the United States, foreign relations, the security of the United States military and human resources, and the continued viability of sensitive intelligence collection methods.” (The seizure of these alleged documents came more than a year after Trump had left office, plenty of time to have jeopardized national security if he wanted to.)
Smith did no better in his follow-up accusation charging Trump with four counts related to Jan. 6. “The attack on our nation’s capital on January 6, 2021 was an unprecedented assault on the seat of American democracy,” Smith said during a brief public statement of August 1. “He was fed by lies. Defendant’s lies aimed at obstructing a core function of the US government, the process of collecting, counting and certifying the results of the nation’s presidential elections.” Smith then went on a strange riff on how the forces of the order saved the nation that day.
What the public didn’t know at the time was that Smith had just won a court battle against Twitter seeking all the data from the former president’s inactive account. Not only did Smith ask a D.C. judge to authorize a search warrant for the account information, including direct messages and deleted posts, but he tried to cloak Trump’s order in a confidentiality order.
In doing so, Smith told the court that Trump could flee the country if the Twitter warrant was reported, a claim he later stated was made in “mistake.” But it wasn’t a mistake. The flight risk concern was discussed several times during a sealed hearing in February between Judge Beryl Howell and both sides, as I reported here.
At one point, Howell seemed to agree with Smith, noting that Trump “has properties overseas that would be probative.” (There is a discrepancy as to when the flight risk claim was made, but the public may never know since the final nondisclosure order remains sealed, as most cases do. Howell signed the NDO and fined Twitter $350,000 for allegedly delaying production of the records.)
After dropping the flight risk claim, Smith’s team took it up a notch. If Trump were to learn of the order, it could lead to riots in the streets. “Following his defeat in the 2020 presidential election, the former president spread false claims of fraud, pressured state and federal officials to violate their legal duties, and retaliated against those who failed to comply with his demands . culminating in violence at the United States Capitol on January 6 (emphasis added),” Smith argued in response to the NDO’s Twitter appeal. Trump’s knowledge of the warrant, Smith continued, “could precipitate violence as occurred after the public disclosure of the search warrant executed at Mar-a-Lago.”
Smith appeared to be referring to a gunman who tried to force his way into an FBI office in Cincinnati a few days after the FBI raided Trump’s property. He was shot dead by the police.
So, to summarize Smith’s thinking: Trump is to blame for the violence that occurred on January 6th, even though the security and intelligence failures are well documented and it is not the president’s job to protect the grounds of the United States Capitol and because a single madman tried to shoot. FBI office in Ohio after Mar-a-Lago attack: Would Trump incite more violence after learning of a search warrant on his Twitter account?
An absurd, desperate and totally dishonest argument.
But Smith really jumped the shark last week in 19 pages movement seeking a gag order on the leading GOP presidential candidate. Citing numerous posts from Truth Social, Smith accused Trump of trying to poison the jury pool and intimidate potential witnesses in the Jan. 6 case. From the motion:
Not only is Smith apparently unaware that most Americans have no confidence in the Justice Department, but the idea that Trump could somehow influence prospective jurors in a nearly 100% Democratic city by commenting on a platform of social media that few DC residents probably use is laughable.
Smith then accused Trump of publishing “false and derogatory statements about the Department of Justice and prosecutors in the Office of Special Counsel in an attempt to undermine confidence in the justice system. [The] The defendant called the Office of the Special Counsel a “team of thugs.” Smith insisted he has been “subject to multiple threats” and one of his top prosecutors received “intimidating communications”.
Very thin skin?
Smith asked Judge Tanya Chutkan, who has a history of anti-Trump comments in court, to bar Trump from making statements “about the identity, testimony or credibility of potential witnesses” and “statements about any party, witness , attorney, etc. court personnel, or prospective jurors who are contemptuous and inflammatory or intimidating.” (Trump filed a motion earlier this month asking Chutkan to recuse himself based on “disparaging” comments about the former president, as I reported here.)
Despite Smith’s description of the gag order as “tight,” that’s not all. If Chutkan grants Smith’s proposal, Trump could not say anything critical from the DOJ, FBI, federal judges and DC juries. Trump was unable to comment on government officials, including Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray, a key point of the campaign.
Smith also wants to bar Trump from commenting on “potential witnesses,” which includes Republican rival Mike Pence. A “potential witness” could be whoever Jack Smith wants it to be in such a broad case.
This is a blatant act of election interference, as DOJ corruption and the dual justice system in the nation’s capital are some of Trump’s top campaign issues.
Ironically, by seeking the gag order, Smith is responsible for amplifying such critical comments in the wider blogosphere outside of Truth Social.
Should Chutkan put a gag order on Smith?
While Chutkan weighs two issues of speech, presumably defending his right to speak his partisan mind during unrelated legal proceedings while at the same time agreeing that Trump should keep his mouth shut, Smith is certainly working on the next chapter of his Donald Trump files.
Maybe someone should volunteer to check under Smith’s bed every night.