Judge Chutkan Declines To Sanction Special Counsel For Aggravated Filing Stuff

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Judge Tanya Chutkan heaved a heavy sigh on the federal docket this afternoon, because, even with his case stayed on appeal, Donald Trump is a giant pain in the ass.

On January 4, his lawyers John Lauro and Todd Blanche filed a hemorrhoid-shaped motion demanding that the court hold Special Counsel Jack Smith and his deputies Molly Gaston and Thomas Windom in contempt of court for the crime of aggravated filing stuff. Their argument is that the prosecutors are barred from adhering to discovery deadlines by filing pretrial motions or even turning over discovery while the case is being appealed.

The pleading was typically over-caffeinated:

Unstated, but obvious, is the prosecutors’ desperate effort to harass President Trump and prevent his likely victory in the 2024 Presidential Election. A significant part of this strategy, which the prosecutors have employed from the outset, is to use this case as a platform to advance the Biden Campaign’s dishonest political talking points, including, for example, echoing the false and defamatory claims that President Trump spreads “disinformation.”

And the Special Counsel’s three-page reply was a typically understated “Quit flopping, dorks.” (Slight paraphrase.)

Unsurprisingly Judge Chutkan, will not be imposing contempt sanctions on the prosecution for filing motions. Forced to mediate this bullshit, she simply agreed that “[t]he Stay Order did not clearly and unambiguously prohibit the Government actions to which Defendant objects,” and noted that “merely receiving discovery or an exhibit list” cannot possibly constitute a “meaningful burden” on the former president and his lawyers.

But she agreed that the special counsel’s motion in limine filed on December 27 imposes at least some burden on defense counsel, insofar as they must conduct a “preliminary review of each substantive motion” to see if it requires them to fire up the waambulence. (Just kidding, they leave the engine running.)

So Jack Smith and his deputies can knock it off for a minute, or at least quit filing stuff without first asking the court, until the DC Circuit gets around to booting Trump back to the trial court.

And considering the beatdown Trump’s lawyer John Sauer took last week before Judges Henderson, Pan, and Childs, that should be any second now. Well, unless Clarence, Sam, Neil, Brett, and Amy get their hooks in it. But barring that …

US v. Trump [District Docket via Court Listener]
US v. Trump [Circuit Docket via Court Listener]

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore where she writes the Law and Chaos substack and appears on the Opening Arguments podcast.

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