History of Jack Smith's courtroom smackdowns after landmark loss in Trump immunity case


Special prosecutor Jack Smith suffered two major legal setbacks this week after the Supreme Court ruled against his efforts in two pending cases. 

On Monday, the high court ruled that presidents enjoy limited immunity for official presidential actions. On Friday, the high court ruled in favor of a Jan. 6 defendant charged with obstruction for his involvement in the 2021 Capitol riot.  

Both decisions significantly set back Smith’s case against former President Trump and add to an already checkered legal track record. 

Smith was appointed in 2022 by Attorney General Merrick Garland to oversee an investigation into whether Trump was involved in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot and any alleged interference in the 2020 election result.

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Special counsel Jack Smith was tasked with investigating Trump. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Smith charged Trump with conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding and conspiracy against rights. 

He had pushed to try Trump before the 2024 election, but the Supreme Court’s decisions provided a setback to the trial schedule and a blow to the legal merits of the case.

“I think a big problem is that prosecutors in general often overcharge, partially because it puts a lot of pressure on defendants to accept a plea deal,” John Shu, a constitutional attorney who served in both Bush administrations, told Fox News Digital.
 
“Jack Smith long has had a reputation, both at (the Eastern District of New York) and main Justice, of being a hyper-aggressive prosecutor. What makes him unusual is that he seems willing to overstretch the meaning and intent of the law in order to meet his conviction and high sentencing goals.” 

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Jack Smith

American prosecutor Jack Smith presides during the presentation of Hashim Thaci, the former president of Kosovo, for the first time before a war crimes court in The Hague Nov. 9, 2020. (Jerry Lampen/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

From 2010 to 2015, Smith served under Obama’s Attorney General, Eric Holder, leading the DOJ’s Public Integrity Section.

Prior to the Supreme Court’s rulings in the Trump-related cases this term, Smith has incurred more than one high-profile loss. 

Most notably, in 2016, he scored a conviction against former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell on corruption charges. But that conviction was unanimously overturned in an 8-0 ruling by the Supreme Court. 

“There is no doubt that this case is distasteful; it may be worse than that. But our concern is not with tawdry tales of Ferraris, Rolexes, and ball gowns. It is instead with the broader legal implications of the Government’s boundless interpretation of the federal bribery statute,” the court wrote. 

The court in that decision warned that the “uncontrolled power of criminal prosecutors is a threat to our separation of power.”

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Jack smith at podium

Special counsel Jack Smith delivers remarks on a recently unsealed indictment, including four felony counts, against former President Trump at the Justice Department Aug. 1, 2023, in Washington, D.C. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

In 2012, Smith charged and prosecuted John Edwards, a former senator and Democratic vice presidential candidate, a prosecution Smith decisively lost. Jurors voted to acquit Edwards of several felony violations of federal campaign finance laws. 

In 2017, Smith prosecuted Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., on public corruption charges, which resulted in a mistrial. 

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Shu says Supreme Court precedent should have signaled to Smith “to avoid misusing its obstruction provision,” and that the high court’s ruling was “predictable.”
 
“However, practically — and politically — Smith’s strategy was understandable because DOJ charged hundreds of defendants under those obstruction provisions, including the Jan. 6 defendants,” Shu said. 

“Politically, Smith had to charge Trump with [obstruction] because all of those other Jan. 6 defendants also were charged, which underscores the toxic and damaging effects of injecting politics into criminal law prosecutions.” 

A representative for Smith did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.



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