Jack Smith Seeks Court Ban on Trump's 'Undercover Officers' Claim for Jan. 6 Riot

Special Counsel Intensifies Legal Pressure on Trump's Defense.

by Nouman Rasool
Jack Smith Seeks Court Ban on Trump's 'Undercover Officers' Claim for Jan. 6 Riot
© Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Special Counsel Jack Smith has made a strategic move against former President Donald Trump in an ongoing election subversion case. On Wednesday, Smith submitted a request to the court, urging the exclusion of what he deems "irrelevant" evidence in Trump's defense.

Central to this request is the prohibition of any assertions involving government informants allegedly inciting the January 6 Capitol riot. Smith's legal argument, outlined in a Wednesday filing, emphasizes the potential for jury confusion and the wastage of time if such evidence, deemed peripheral to the case, is permitted.

He expressed concerns over Trump's likely strategy to shift blame onto undercover agents or confidential sources, referencing a social media post by Trump about a Metropolitan Police Department officer's suggestion to infiltrate the rioters disguised as Antifa.

The Special Counsel argued that Trump cannot credibly link any actions of undercover law enforcement officials to his mental state during the events of January 6. Smith highlighted the historical dismissal of similar defense strategies by riot defendants in past court proceedings, which attempted to deflect responsibility for their actions on that day.

Smith has levied serious charges against Trump, including conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy against rights, and obstructing an official proceeding. The obstruction charge ties directly to the Capitol riot, alleging Trump's role in temporarily hindering Congress's certification of the 2020 election results.

Strategic Evidence Exclusion

This request to bar evidence about informants and undercover agents forms part of a broader legal strategy by Smith. He has also petitioned U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan to prevent the introduction of evidence aimed at politicizing the trial.

This includes Trump's claims of selective and vindictive prosecution, which Smith argues are irrelevant to the actual charges. Additionally, Smith seeks to exclude any claims of foreign influence in the 2020 election, labeling such arguments as distracting and misleading.

Smith asserts that Trump should only be allowed to reference such evidence if it is substantial and demonstrates a good faith reliance on specific misinformation regarding the 2020 election. These requests for evidence exclusion are typical in prosecutorial practice, yet they come at a time when the trial's schedule is uncertain due to ongoing appeals.

Despite the current pause in the trial, imposed by Judge Chutkan as the appellate court reviews Trump's motions to dismiss the case, Smith's adherence to deadlines indicates his determination to resume proceedings as soon as legally feasible.

The trial was initially set for March 4. However, with Trump, a potential 2024 presidential candidate, entangled in four criminal cases, there has been a strategic push for deadline extensions, appeals, and postponements of trials until after the election.

While the Washington trial's schedule remains in flux, Smith's recent actions suggest a readiness to proceed swiftly, contingent upon the failure of Trump's dismissal appeals. In response, Trump criticized Smith on Wednesday, accusing him of flouting Judge Chutkan's directives, though Chutkan has not explicitly barred voluntary motion filings during the stay.

Trump's statement highlighted what he perceives as a disregard for legal norms and the Judge's explicit instructions to halt all litigation in the case.