Last week, reports emerged suggesting that Special Counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into alleged election fraud subsequent to the 2020 Presidential election might be reaching its conclusion, taking the heat off of former President Donald Trump. People familiar with the proceedings revealed to The New York Times that Smith seems to gradually lessen his inquiry into the possibility that Trump’s campaign may have financially deceived supporters by spreading unverified election outcomes.
According to two anonymous sources, Smith’s investigative team has discreetly revoked a subpoena that initially demanded record access from Trump’s 2020 campaign. The move is part of their larger probe intended to find out if Trump’s political and fundraising teams bent or broke any rules in an attempt to retain power after losing the Presidential race.
Highlighting the development, The New York Times observed, ‘The special counsel’s office under Jack Smith made a decision at the start of the week to essentially nullify the subpoena served to the Trump campaign. This follows a similar subpoena withdrawal from Save America, Trump’s political action committee established shortly after conceding the 2020 race.’
The media outlet further added that this suggests an imminent wrap-up or termination of this segment of Smith’s inquiry, which is focused on whether or not laws were breached by Trump’s allegations of the 2020 election being rigged to fundraise. The investigations revolved around both the Donald J. Trump for President Inc. and the Save America PAC.
Credit for the initial reporting about the subpoena withdrawal from Save America was given by The Times to The Washington Post. The claims by Trump’s political operation, which brought in close to $250 million, were centered around controversial notions that the 2020 election results were manipulated, despite no credible evidence to support such allegations.
Rates of outrage and exaggeration are generally high in political fundraising materials, and Trump’s camp has always insisted that any financial probe against them by Smith’s office is likely to fall short of turning up chargeable offenses. This argument is cemented by the fact that there’s a fine line between what’s criminally liable and what solicitations may be protected under the First Amendment.
In a parallel but related development, earlier the same week, a federal judge supervising the case on Trump’s handling of classified documents dealt a significant blow to Smith’s prosecution team. U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon firmly turndown a solicitation by the prosecution to block the defense lawyers from specific documents and evidence during the trial’s discovery stage.
Judge Cannon’s judgment blasted Smith’s team’s attempt to limit discovery on the grounds of a ‘broad and unconvincing theory’, as well as an ‘atextual’ and ‘almost careless’ interpretation of the applicable federal statute, as reported by The Western Journal.
The negotiation follows Smith’s indictment of Trump valet, Walt Nauta, and Mar-a-Lago property manager, Carlos De Oliveira. Both individuals were charged with alleged conspiring with the erstwhile President to illegally retain classified documents in Trump’s South Florida residence.
In the ruling handed down on Wednesday, Judge Cannon criticized the Special Counsel’s Office for a broad interpretation of the Classified Information Procedures Act, which she stated didn’t line up with a straightforward interpretation of the law. She expressed her view that Smith’s team had attempted to essentially block Nauta and De Oliveira from thoroughly reviewing discovery material to be presented in the case, and delegating the responsibility to justify this action on the defense counsel.
According to the Special Counsel’s team, Section 3 of the CIPA law validates their request. This part of the legislation states, ‘Upon motion of the United States, the court shall issue an order to protect against the disclosure of any classified information disclosed by the United States to any defendant in any criminal case in a district court of the United States.’
Judge Cannon, who was appointed by Trump himself, argues that a mere textual interpretation of the law does not support Smith’s argument. She notes that the defense lawyers should not be generally barred from scanning documents used as evidence that their clients were careless with classified documents.
Judge Cannon picked apart the legal language of the CIPA law, underlining its distinction between the defendant and their legal counsel. The Office of Special Counsel’s interpretation would require the court to interpret ‘the defendant’ in Section 3 to mean ‘attorney for the defendant’, while concurrently excluding ‘the defendant’ facing criminal indictment, especially in instances where the government provides a basis to object to such disclosures pretrial.
She then described the Special Counsel’s application of this law to be an overall ‘broad and atextual interpretation’, suggesting that they were attempting to overextend the reach of the legislation’s phrasing to achieve their objectives.