Judge limits new filings in Trump Jan. 6 case but denied bid to hold special counsel in contempt

Judge limits new filings in Trump Jan. 6 case but denied bid to hold special counsel in contempt

A federal judge will require special counsel Jack Smith to seek permission before making any additional filings in former President Trump’s case for election interference, a small victory for the former president as the court otherwise declined to advance a filing designed to hold prosecutors in contempt.

The effort from Trump to censure prosecutors came after Smith filed a motion seeking to bar the former president from making certain arguments in court. That filing came as Judge Tanya Chutkan had otherwise paused proceedings in the case as Trump appeals her order rejecting his arguments he is immune from prosecution as a former president.

While Chutkan’s order paused deadlines in the case, she found Thursday that other actions like turning over required evidence in the case did not violate her order to prohibit “any further proceedings that would move this case towards trial or impose additional burdens of litigation on Defendant.”

“The Stay Order did not clearly and unambiguously prohibit the Government actions to which Defendant objects,” she wrote.

“On its own terms, then, the Stay Order’s key operative sentence did not clearly bar the Government from voluntary rather than obligatory compliance with the Pretrial Order’s now-stayed deadlines,” she said.

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But Chutkan gave more scrutiny of Smith’s motion to limit certain arguments from Trump, writing that any new motion would impose some burden on Trump’s defense team.

“Diligent defense counsel will need to conduct a preliminary review of each substantive motion the Government files in order to know whether they need to take further action. While that is not a major burden, it is a cognizable one,” she wrote.

“Accordingly, the court will adopt Defendant’s recommendation that the parties be forbidden from filing any further substantive pretrial motions without first seeking leave from the court.”

Both parties will now be required to first seek permission from the court, laying out whether their motion “is ancillary to the pending appeal and so requires a timely response or other action before the mandate is returned.”

Trump had asked Chutkan to go further, asking her to force prosecutors to justify why they should not be held in contempt or forced to withdraw their motions.

They also argued Smith should cover Trump’s legal costs for preparing the brief asking for Chutkan’s intervention.

Trump’s trial is largely on ice as he appeals Chutkan’s order rejecting his bid to dismiss the case on his immunity claims.

Trump last week appeared before a panel of appeals court judges who weighed the matter and sounded largely skeptical Trump still enjoys the immunity afforded to sitting presidents.

The panel has not yet ruled on the matter.

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