Trump seeks to hold special counsel in contempt for violating pause in election case

By Andrew Goudsward

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Donald Trump’s lawyers on Thursday asked a judge to hold U.S. Special Counsel Jack Smith in contempt of court, accusing his office of violating an order pausing activity in its prosecution of the former president for trying to overturn his 2020 election defeat.

Trump’s legal team said Smith and prosecutors working on the case have disregarded an order from U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan by continuing to turn over evidence to the defense and filing a legal motion, according to a court filing.

Chutkan last month halted any activity that would move the case toward trial or impose the “burdens of litigation” on Trump while he appeals a previous ruling that he does not have immunity from the charges.

Trump’s lawyers accused prosecutors of making “partisan” allegations in a court filing knowing that Trump’s team would not respond while the case is paused. The filing, published last month, seeks to prevent Trump, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, from arguing during the trial that the case is politically motivated.

A spokesperson for Smith declined to comment. Prosecutors have said in court papers that they have continued to follow previously set deadlines to “help ensure that trial proceeds promptly” if Trump’s appeal is rejected.

Trump’s lawyers and Smith, who is overseeing the prosecution, have repeatedly squared off over the timing of the trial, which is currently scheduled to begin in March.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to charges that he led a series of schemes to block the certification of the election results following his defeat to Democrat Joe Biden in 2020.

A federal appeals court is scheduled to hear arguments on Trump’s immunity claim on Tuesday.

(This story has been refiled to fix a typo in paragraph 7)

(Reporting by Andrew Goudsward; Editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis)