Trump wants special counsel held in contempt for allegedly violating stay in Jan. 6 case

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(NEW YORK) — Lawyers for former President Donald Trump have asked the judge overseeing his federal election interference case to hold special counsel Jack Smith and members of his team in contempt of court for what they claim are “violations” of the current stay of the case as the appeals process plays out.

In a filing Thursday, Trump’s lawyers argue that the special counsel continuing to file briefs and produce discovery to the defense while the case is on hold is just a tactic to “use this case a platform to advance” President Joe Biden’s “political talking points.”

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan last month agreed to Trump’s request to stay proceedings in the case while the appeals process plays out. Smith’s team opposed an all-out stay, saying they felt certain filings could still move forward to keep the case on track for its March 4 trial date.

In their Thursday filing, Trump’s lawyers say that the special counsel’s belief that only “deadlines” in the case are currently stayed — and not the filing of papers — is false.

“To remedy this outrageous conduct, the Court should issue an order to show cause why the prosecutors should not be: (1) held in contempt; (2) required to immediately withdraw their MIL and improper productions; (3) forbidden from submitting any further filing or production absent the Court’s express permission while the Stay Order is in effect; and (4) assessed monetary sanctions in the amount of President Trump’s reasonable attorneys’ fees and expenses incurred in responding to the prosecutors’ improper productions and filings,” Trump’s attorneys wrote in the filing.

In a related development, Trump is planning to attend next week’s appeals court arguments on his efforts to dismiss the case based on his claim of presidential immunity, multiple sources familiar with the matter tell ABC News.

The plans are not set in stone and could shift, sources said.

Trump attending arguments would mark the first time he has been to the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C., since his arraignment back in August. Arguments are scheduled to occur three days after the three-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, which sits just blocks away from the courthouse.

As the campaign calendar gets into full swing, sources close to the former president say they expect the primaries and court appearances to start colliding. Trump has expressed a strong desire to attend the closing arguments in the New York attorney general’s $250 million fraud civil suit at the end of the next week, sources say.

Sources tell ABC News it’s also likely Trump will attend the second E. Jean Carroll’s defamation trial, which is slated to begin just after the Iowa caucuses. Carroll, a former Elle magazine columnist, sued Trump in November 2019 over comments he made shortly after Carroll publicly accused him of raping her in a Manhattan department store dressing room in the 1990s. Carroll prevailed in a separate but related lawsuit in May that alleged defamation and battery, and was awarded $5 million in damages. Trump, who has denied all wrongdoing, is appealing that case.

Trump in August pleaded not guilty to charges of undertaking a “criminal scheme” to overturn the results of the 2020 election by enlisting a slate of so-called “fake electors,” using the Justice Department to conduct “sham election crime investigations,” trying to enlist the vice president to “alter the election results,” and promoting false claims of a stolen election as the Jan. 6 riot raged — all in an effort to subvert democracy and remain in power.

The former president has denied all wrongdoing and denounced the charges as “a persecution of a political opponent.”

The New York Times was first to report on Trump’s expected court appearances.

 

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