Supreme Court takes January 6 case that could have major implications for Trump

 December 20, 2023

Special Counsel Jack Smith has indicted former President Donald Trump on four charges relating to his behavior following the 2020 election.

However, the Supreme Court recently agreed to hear a case that could prove fatal to Smith's strategy. 

Case concerns charge of "obstruction of an official proceeding"

According to Newsweek, the nation's highest judicial body announced last week that it will take on Fischer v. United States.

The case concerns Joseph Fischer, Edward Lang, and Garret Miller, three men who were all charged with "obstruction of an official proceeding" under 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(2).

The Department of Justice (DOJ) maintains that the men ran afoul of the statute by entering the Capitol on January 6, 2021 and delaying Congress' certification of the 2020 election results.

In response, the three men contend that their actions on January 6 were not an example of what the law was intended to cover.

A ruling for the defendants would eliminate two of Trump's charges

Former federal prosecutor Michael McAuliffe told Newsweek that a ruling in the defendants' favor "could well have a ripple effect in many other Capitol riot cases where the defendants were charged with the same obstruction of justice provision, went to trial (as opposed to pleading guilty) and were convicted."

The most prominent case is that of Trump himself, who has himself been charged with obstruction of an official proceeding and attempting to obstruct an official proceeding.

Should the Supreme Court invalidate the obstruction charges, then Trump would still have to defend himself against charges of conspiracy against rights and conspiracy to defraud the United States.

Yet former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade was quoted as telling Newsweek that such a move would still complicate things for Smith.

Smith may be forced to delay Trump's trial

"Even though he has two other counts in the indictment, convictions on the obstruction counts could jeopardize the whole case on appeal if a court were later to find that the jury may have relied on evidence of the obstruction in reaching its decision," she explained.

The special counsel will thus be forced to decide between several options, none of which Smith is likely to find appealing.

One of them is to delay the March 4 trial date, which could mean that a verdict isn't reached until after the election. Others are to either drop the obstruction counts now "or take his chances with all four counts and move forward."

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