A major obstacle was presented to Jack Smith, special counsel for the investigation of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol Building two-and-a-half years ago, by a federal appeals court in the United States.
Last week, it was determined by the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that Smith could not have access to Representative Scott Perry’s (R-Pa.) phone records due to it being considered a violation of his immunity under the “speech and debate” clause within the Constitution.
According to Politico, Smith was looking into Perry’s communications with colleagues and Executive Branch officials. Nevertheless, a clause exists which prevents members of Congress from facing legal action while fulfilling their roles as elected representatives.
“While elections are political events, a member’s deliberation about whether to certify a presidential election or how to assess information relevant to legislation about federal election procedures are textbook legislative acts,” U.S. District Judge Neomi Rao wrote in the opinion issued last week.
Newsmax noted further:
The decision marked the the first time an appeals court has held that lawmakers’ cellphones are subject to the same protections as their physical offices.
It also was the first significant legal setback for Smith in his bid to obtain evidence about involvement by allies of Donald Trump in the then-president’s alleged effort to overturn the 2020 election, Politico reported.
Rao, a Trump appointee, was joined by another Trump appointee, Judge Gregory Katsas, and by Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson, who was nominated by President George H.W. Bush.
U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell’s decision to largely side with the government’s request to gain access to Perry’s cellphone data was overturned by a three-judge panel.
The appeals court then sent the case back to Howell’s court and instructed her to consider the new ruling when making any future decisions in the case, according to various outlets.
On “The Five,” Jesse Watters harshly criticized Smith for charging former President Donald Trump in two separate cases, referring to him as a “nervous wreck” and bringing up his previous legal issues with the U.S. Supreme Court.
The charges included four counts related to Trump’s attempts to challenge the results of the 2020 presidential election: willful retention of national defense information, conspiracy to obstruct justice, and two counts of making false statements.
“That was Special Counsel Jack Smith, who looked like a bedraggled nervous wreck, dripping with anger and highly emotional,” Watters said after showing a clip of Smith’s press conference earlier in the day announcing the new charges.
“The last time Jack Smith charged a politician, the case was so weak, it got tossed out of the Supreme Court unanimously. The Biden Justice Department is using obscure federal statutes to put a former president in prison for the rest of his life,” Watters told viewers.
The Supreme Court unanimously overturned Smith’s conviction of then-Republican Governor Bob McDowell of Virginia, whom Smith had prosecuted for receiving gifts; Watters was referring to this case.
“These charges are not bribery, not assault, not tax evasion, not sex trafficking. They’re charging Donald Trump under the Act of 1866,” Watters said. “It was used against the [Ku Klux] Klan, and now they are using it against Trump.”
Trump has pleaded not guilty to all counts and has likened the indictments to election interference.