How special counsel Smith is fighting 'at least 8 secret court battles' in Trump probes: report
Some Republican supporters of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis have been arguing that if he decides to run, he would be preferable to former President Donald Trump as a 2024 presidential candidate because he doesn’t have Trump’s legal baggage. Trump is seeking the GOP presidential nomination at a time when he is facing multiple investigations — some criminal, some civil — and is being simultaneously probed by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis, New York State Attorney General Letitia James, and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
On top of all that, Trump is facing a civil lawsuit from former Elle columnist E. Jean Carroll, who alleges that he tried to sexually assault her in a Manhattan department store in the late 1990s. Trump has emphatically denied that allegation.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed special counsel Jack Smith to conduct two separate Trump-related investigations for DOJ: one on the January 6, 2021 insurrection, the other on classified government documents Trump was storing at his Mar-a-Lago compound in Palm Beach, Florida. And according to CNN, Smith is "locked in at least eight secret court battles" in connection with those DOJ probes.
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CNN reporters Katelyn Polantz, Casey Gannon and Evan Perez, in an article published on February 16, explain, "The outcome of these disputes could have far-reaching implications, as they revolve around a 2024 presidential candidate and could lead courts to shape the law around the presidency, separation of powers and attorney-client confidentiality in ways they’ve never done before. Yet almost all of the proceedings are sealed, and filings and decisions aren’t public."
The CNN journalists describe some of the ways in which Smith’s investigations differ from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia/Trump probe.
"The sheer number of grand jury challenges from potential witnesses is both a reflection of the scope of the special counsel’s investigation and a hallmark of Trump’s ultra-combative style in the face of investigations," Polantz, Gannon and Perez observe. "By comparison, Robert Mueller’s grand jury investigation into Trump had a smattering of sealed proceedings where investigators used the court to pry for more answers, and independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s Whitewater investigation ultimately totaled seven similar sealed cases."
Democratic attorney Neil Eggleston, who served as White House counsel under President Barack Obama and was an associate counsel for President Bill Clinton, points out that with Smith’s two Trump-related probes, the former president is continuing to make executive privilege claims.
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Eggleston told CNN, "I think we are in extraordinary times. Part of it is I think President Trump continues to assert these theories long after they’ve been batted away by the court."
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Read CNN’s full report at this link.
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