Rep. Gaetz unveils plan to demand testimony from Special Counsel Smith under threat of criminal contempt of Congress

August 5, 2023
Ben Marquis

As had been anticipated, Special Counsel Jack Smith criminally indicted former President Donald Trump over his efforts to challenge the disputed results of the 2020 election and delay the congressional certification of those results -- a move many critics have decried as the political criminalization of First Amendment-protected free speech.

One such critic is Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who recently laid out a plan to flip the script and pursue criminal charges against Smith himself in order to impose accountability for what many believe is partisan persecution of the former Republican president, Townhall reported.

That plan essentially boils down to holding the special counsel in criminal contempt of Congress and/or granting special congressional immunity to Trump as a form of protection against politically motivated prosecutions.

Smith must testify or be held in contempt of Congress

During a recent appearance on Newsmax, Rep. Gaetz said of the latest indictment against former President Trump, "The question isn't what Joe Biden's doing -- we already have observed that -- the real question is what will House Republicans do."

"First, House Republicans should immediately demand that Jack Smith present himself for a transcribed interview before the Judiciary Committee in the next 15 days," the congressman explained. "If he does not do that, we should send a subpoena."

"If he ignores the subpoena, we should hold him in criminal contempt of the Congress so that he is the first prosecutor in American history to be prosecuting a case while himself under criminal contempt," Gaetz stated. "And if [Attorney General] Merrick Garland doesn't enforce that criminal contempt, then we ought to impeach Merrick Garland."

Congress can grant special immunity to Trump

Rep. Gaetz wasn't done there, however, as he proceeded to lay out a concurrent plan of attack to attempt to counter the Biden administration's political prosecution of former President Trump.

"And by the way, while we're doing all of that, to showcase how political and indeed dirty this has all become, we can utilize congressional immunities to immunize President Trump," the Florida congressman said.

Gaetz cited 18 U.S.C. 6002 (3) and explained that the statute "gives any committee or subcommittee of the Congress the ability to subpoena a witness, bring them in, and functionally immunize them."

"And if we are not going to stand up for Congress' equities when it comes to election interference, when it comes to misuse of the DOJ -- this is all an effort to try and distract us from the very real crimes committed by Hunter and Joe Biden," he added.

Gaetz also plans to defund Special Counsel Smith's office

This is actually not the first or only plan that Rep. Gaetz has unveiled as part of an effort for House Republicans to push back against Special Counsel Smith, as just a few weeks ago, prior to the latest indictment of former President Trump, the Florida congressman suggested that Congress could functionally defund the special counsel's office via a stand-alone bill, according to The Hill.

In a July 18 podcast, Gaetz said, "The House of Representatives needs to take action to defund this special counsel investigation immediately."

"They are attacking our democracy and engaging in election interference right now, and if the United States Congress does not have the capability to stop that election interference -- then what is all of the flowery oratory about 'saving the Republic.' We have to operationalize that," he added as he announced his intent to file legislation to strip the special counsel's office of its funding.

In addition to the claimed "election interference," Gaetz also accused the special counsel of a "lack of transparency" in that the office has repeatedly ignored his requests for information about who is on Jack Smith's team and what their backgrounds and political connections are -- which he asserted are things that Congress and the American people are entitled to know.

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