Special Counsel Smith hires experienced SCOTUS litigator while Trump bolsters legal team with trio of Missouri attorneys

December 21, 2023
Ben Marquis

The legal battle between Special Counsel Jack Smith and former President Donald Trump over the 2020 election-related criminal indictment has reached the Supreme Court via an emergency request from Smith for the justices to swiftly rule on the question of Trump's claimed presidential immunity from prosecution.

Given the dispute's high stakes, Smith and Trump have hired new top litigators to bolster their respective legal teams, according to Politico.

Smith's latest hire is a lawyer with abundant experience in making arguments before the Supreme Court. At the same time, Trump hired a trio of lawyers out of Missouri with more limited experience before the high court but who have been successful at lower levels of the judiciary in filing lawsuits against the Biden administration.

Smith hires experienced Supreme Court litigator

Politico reported that the newest addition to Special Counsel Smith's legal team is high-powered attorney Michael Dreeben, who has argued more than 100 cases before the Supreme Court since 1988.

His presence on Smith's team was revealed on the cover sheet of the special counsel's petition for the Supreme Court to quickly address the matter of former President Trump's presidential immunity claim, where Dreeben is listed as both the "Counselor to the Special Counsel" and the "Counsel of Record" for the prosecution team.

The outlet noted that Dreeben worked for several decades in the U.S. Solicitor General's office before joining a private firm in 2020, and was described by former Justice Department colleague Mary McCord as "cerebral," "thoughtful," and "brilliant."

This actually won't be the first time that Dreeben will employ his skills as a litigator against Trump, as he was reportedly an integral part of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team that went after the Republican president during the first few years of his term as part of the Russian collusion hoax.

Trump's new trio of conservative attorneys from Missouri

According to Politico, former President Trump has not hired a high-powered litigator of his own with plenty of experience before the Supreme Court but rather added three new top conservative attorneys out of Missouri named D. John Sauer, Will Scharf, and Michael Talent.

Of those three, only Sauer has any experience in arguing one time before the Supreme Court, in which he prevailed in opposition against a 2018 method of execution challenge from a Missouri death row inmate.

However, Sauer once clerked for the late Justice Antonin Scalia, served for several years as Missouri's solicitor general, and has served under multiple Missouri attorneys general, as have Scharf and Talent, who both worked in different capacities for the Trump administration -- including aiding the confirmations of Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett -- and have developed ample experience in the conservative legal realm.

According to Axios, all three of those attorneys were listed on the cover sheet of the Trump team's response brief to Special Counsel Smith's petition to the Supreme Court, with Sauer denoted as the "Counsel of Record."

The Supreme Court response brief also listed Trump's attorneys Todd Blanche and John Lauro, and Politico noted that though he was not listed, Trump's lead attorney in New York, Chris Kise, is also expected to provide advice to the legal team but not participate directly in the Supreme Court litigation.

Trump campaign spox addresses new attorney hires

In a statement to Politico, Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung praised the three new attorneys on Trump's Supreme Court team as "some of the most experienced, qualified, and determined minds in American jurisprudence."

Cheung also took a swipe at the special counsel's hiring of Dreeben and said, "Deranged Jack Smith and his team have been so badly outmatched by President Trump’s powerhouse attorneys, that 'Deranged' had to beg a tainted Democrat operative, who helped engineer the exposed Mueller hoax, to come to try and save them. That pathetic attempt will fail."

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