Justice Counsel Warns Trump’s Remarks May Taint Jury in Election Fraud Case

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Jack Smith, Justice Department special counsel, cautioned on Tuesday that ongoing “daily” remarks made by former President Donald Trump may thwart the impartiality of a jury in Washington. This relates to a criminal case in which Trump is accused of planning to subvert the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

Trump’s incendiary comments about Smith’s team and U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan have been a major concern since the indictment was filed the previous month. Prosecutors have consistently expressed worry about the influence of Trump’s social media posts on the proceedings, with Chutkan sternly advising Trump against issuing provocative declamations that could intimidate witnesses or taint potential jurors.

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Even so, Trump continued his commentary on Tuesday, mocking the concept of Chutkan rendering a fair judgement in his case on his Truth Social platform. He followed this up with a subsequent post attacking Smith as a “deranged” prosecutor demonstrating “unchecked and insane aggression”.

This latest grievance by the Justice Department illustrates the degree to which Trump’s social media strikes are straining the tolerance of prosecutors. It also highlights the possibility of invoking sanctions from the presiding judge, who, just last week, took steps to expedite the case by establishing a trial date set for March 4, 2024. He has received similar warnings in other cases, with one condition of his release from a separate Atlanta prosecution being that he abstain from intimidating co-defendants, witnesses or victims involved in the trial.

The issue arose again on Tuesday concerning a filing that the Justice Department endeavored to make confidential, suspecting it of containing sensitive details. The Trump defence team contested, arguing their right to review such documents.

Prosecutors however countered that it would be impractical for the court to delay decisions for weeks on whether “every ordinary filing that refers to Sensitive Materials may be docketed”.

Chutkan sided with the Trump team, allowing them time to respond to the filings from the Justice Department and established deadlines for the coming week.

Apart from the federal election subversion case, Trump is entangled in three other prosecutions. The former President, along with 18 others, faces state charges in Atlanta for allegedly conspiring to overturn the 2020 Georgia election results. Smith has brought other complex accusations against him, including unlawful retention of classified documents. In addition, Trump is implicated in New York on charges of falsifying business documents linked to a secret financial settlement with an adult film actor.