(The Center Square) – Federal prosecutors have asked a judge to keep politics out of the courtroom as a former president running for the nation’s highest office prepares for a criminal trial for the first time in U.S. history during an election year.
U.S. special counsel Jack Smith filed a 20-page motion seeking to block former President Donald Trump from bringing politics into the jury room. Trump has made the prosecution the cornerstone of his campaign and said his state and federal criminal cases amount to election interference as he leads polls for the Republican presidential nomination.
“Through public statements, filings, and argument in hearings before the Court, the defense has attempted to inject into this case partisan political attacks and irrelevant and prejudicial issues that have no place in a jury trial,” Smith’s team of prosecutors wrote in the motion. “The Court should not permit the defendant to turn the courtroom into a forum in which he propagates irrelevant disinformation, and should reject his attempt to inject politics into this proceeding.”
The prosecutors argue that the jury shouldn’t hear Trump’s accusations that he’s a target of a witch hunt designed to keep him from returning to the White House.
“Following his indictment in this District, the defendant has made unsupported and politicized claims of selective and vindictive prosecution, indicated that he intends to explore irrelevant issues related to the Government’s investigation, and complained that the grand jury’s indictment and the Court’s trial date will interfere with his political activities,” prosecutors wrote. “None of these issues goes to the defendant’s guilt or innocence; all of them should be excluded.”
Keeping politics out of a trial in Washington D.C. involving the first U.S. president in history to face criminal charges could prove difficult.
Trump has argued that he has presidential immunity from D.C. charges, which accuse him of criminal conspiracies to subvert the 2020 election results.
The Washington D.C. trial is set to start March 4, but that could change. Smith’s team of federal prosecutors charged Trump with four federal counts related to contesting the 2020 election and the storming of the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021. The charges include conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the United States, obstruction, and conspiracy against the right to vote and to have one’s vote counted, according to the indictment. Trump has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
That trial starts the day before Super Tuesday on March 5, when 15 Republican primaries and caucuses are scheduled to take place.
Trump said Tuesday on social media that he was doing his job as president and repeated past claims that the 2020 election was stolen.
“What I was doing is bringing to light the fact that the Election was, without question, Rigged and Stolen. As President, and Commander-in-Chief, it was my duty to do so! If I did not do this, I would have been in violation of my Oath of Office, and the Take Care Clause, which requires the President to ‘take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed,’ ” Trump posted on Truth Social. “Therefore I am entitled to Total Immunity, because that is exactly what I was doing, Taking Care of our Country, and Guarding it from Rigged and Stolen Elections. Democrats are willing to play a far different game. They are willing to Cheat at levels never seen before.”
Smith’s team said such talk could subvert the trial.
“The defendant has made a baseless claim of selective and vindictive prosecution … and repeatedly has levied the false accusation that the indictment – returned by a grand jury of citizens of this District on a finding of probable cause – was directed by the current president as a form of election interference,” they wrote. “In addition to being wrong, these allegations are irrelevant to the jury’s determination of the defendant’s guilt or innocence, would be prejudicial if presented to the jury, and must be excluded.”
A judge has yet to rule on Smith’s request and Trump’s defense team has yet to formally respond to the prosecution’s motion.