Jack Smith's reputation in jeopardy as efforts to sink Trump face roadblocks

 January 7, 2024

Amid special counsel Jack Smith's ongoing -- and increasingly floundering -- quest to sink Donald Trump's 2024 presidential aspirations, a federal judge in Virginia has dismissed yet another effort to boot the former president from a Republican primary ballot, as the Virginia Mercury reports.

The ruling comes as Smith's own attempts to erect barriers to Trump's success are finding increased resistance in the courts and elsewhere, and his reputation continues to take significant hits.

Virginia ruling boosts Trump

Though the aforementioned court decision in Virginia did not originate with Smith's team, it represents the failure of yet another attempt to derail Trump's desired path to a White House return.

U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema determined that two activists who filed suit seeking to ban Trump from the primary and general election ballots in Virginia via the Fourteenth Amendment's so-called “insurrection clause” lacked the necessary legal standing to do so.

According to Brinkema, the plaintiffs in the case “totally failed” to demonstrate that Trump's inclusion on the state's ballots would result in specific, discernable harm to the pair.

The judge, however, did point out a key distinction between the case before her and similar ballot ban cases out of Colorado and Maine, noting that those outcomes stemmed from state election laws, not claims grounded solely on federal claims.

Setbacks mount for Smith

The aforementioned ruling comes amid a series of setbacks for Smith's efforts to eliminate Trump from the political sphere once and for all, developments that include last month's refusal by the U.S. Supreme Court to grant the special counsel's request for expedited review of the former president's claim of immunity in his federal election interference case.

As ABC News noted, Smith's attempt was rebuffed by the high court in a single-line order the effect of which was to allow the former president to pursue his appeal of a lower court order through the conventional channels.

That result almost certainly served to upend Smith's goal of keeping the previously scheduled trial start date of March 4, something observers believe he favored so as to boost the chances of securing a conviction of the former president well ahead of the presidential election.

Given the series of deliberations and potential appeals that can ensue in the matter between now and spring, according to legal scholar Jonathan Turley, “there's a lot of runway now between [Smith] and that March date that he's got to be able to cross, and the odds are he's not going to be able to stick the landing.”

Smith's appointment in question

Further adding to Smith's current list of woes is the fact that in addition to reviewing arguments about Trump's claim of presidential immunity for his conduct surrounding the Jan. 6 Capitol unrest and the 2020 election results, a federal appeals court may also entertain arguments regarding the very constitutionality of the special counsel's elevation to his current role, as Fox News explains.

The question was brought to the forefront by former Attorney General Ed Meese, who filed an amicus brief to the appellate court contending that Attorney General Merrick Garland had no authority to tap Smith – a private citizen – to the role he currently occupies and that his actions doing so violated the Appointments Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Meese wrote, “Not properly clothed in the authority of the federal government, Smith is a modern example of the naked emperor. Illegally appointed, he has no more authority to represent the United States in this Court, or in the underlying prosecution, than Tom Brady, Warren Buffet, or Beyonce.”

Given the difficulties Smith has encountered in recent weeks, it seems all but certain that Trump and his supporters are feeling some unexpected tailwinds as a year that promises to be full of pivotal political and judicial developments begins to unfold.

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