Fox host Watters slams Special Counsel Smith over prior unanimous overturning of 'weak' political prosecution by Supreme Court

August 3, 2023
Ben Marquis

Special Counsel Jack Smith unveiled on Tuesday what many critics view as another politically motivated federal criminal indictment against former President Donald Trump, this time in relation to his efforts to challenge the 2020 election results and the Jan. 6 Capitol riot that temporarily delayed the congressional certification of those disputed results.

In reaction to the news of the indictment, Fox News host Jesse Watters made reference to a prior prosecution of a political figure by Smith that was devastatingly overturned in unanimous fashion by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Conservative Brief reported.

That overturned case and rebuke from the nation's highest court involved former Republican Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, who Smith had overzealously prosecuted and convicted on federal corruption and bribery charges in relation to alleged gifts received from donors and constituents.

Smith's history of overzealous but weak prosecutions

In his opening monologue on Tuesday, Fox News host Watters first played a video clip of Special Counsel Smith announcing the new criminal charges against former President Trump during a press conference earlier in the day.

"That was Special Counsel Jack Smith, who looked like a bedraggled nervous wreck, dripping with anger and highly emotional," Watters said. "The last time Jack Smith charged a politician, the case was so weak, it got tossed out of the Supreme Court unanimously."

What Watters was referring to was the 2014 indictment and prosecution and conviction of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell by Smith, who at that time served as chief of the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section and had gone after the former governor over allegations of bribery and extortion.

Yet, when that conviction was eventually appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016, the then-evenly partisan split bench voted unanimously, 8-0, to overturn Smith's conviction of McDonnell, and Chief Justice John Roberts, who authored the opinion, held little back in his rebuke of Smith over his "boundless" interpretation of the criminal statutes cited in the case, according to The Federalist.

Relatedly, The Federalist also highlighted another case headed up by Smith that stretched from 2007 to 2011 and involved an overzealous initial arrest but years-delayed prosecution and last-minute plea agreement with a former National Security Agency executive over Espionage Act charges that resulted in a similar rebuke from a federal judge for ruining the man's life and wasting years of the court's time on what was ultimately just a misdemeanor settlement.

Smith rebuked in Supreme Court's unanimous overturning of political prosecution

As for the Supreme Court's unanimous overturning of Smith's conviction of McDonnell in 2016, Politico reported at the time that Chief Justice Roberts wrote, "There is no doubt that this case is distasteful; it may be worse than that. But our concern is not with tawdry tales of Ferraris, Rolexes, and ball gowns. It is instead with the broader legal implications of the Government’s boundless interpretation of the federal bribery statute."

Roberts went on to note that if Smith's conviction of McDonnell were to be upheld, "The Government’s position could cast a pall of potential prosecution" over normal relationships between elected officials and their constituents, and surmised that "Officials might wonder whether they could respond to even the most commonplace requests for assistance, and citizens with legitimate concerns might shrink from participating in democratic discourse."

"None of this, of course, is to suggest that the facts of this case typify normal political interaction between public officials and their constituents. Far from it," the chief justice added of the corruption allegations against McDonnell. "But the Government’s legal interpretation is not confined to cases involving extravagant gifts or large sums of money and we cannot construe a criminal statute on the assumption that the Government will 'use it responsibly.'"

Watters breaks down weak indictment of Trump

"Biden's Justice Department is using obscure federal statutes to put a former president in prison for the rest of his life," Watters said of Special Counsel Smith's latest indictment of former President Trump. "These charges aren't bribery, not assault, not tax evasion, not sex trafficking. They're charging Trump under the [Civil Rights] Act of 1866. It was used against the Klan, and now they're using it against Trump."

"They're saying Trump lied that the election was fraudulent when he really knew the election was clean and that these lies made it hard for the government to certify the election," he continued. "First, they said Trump called a bunch of state legislators in Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin and tried to get them to investigate election fraud. Hold hearings, OK?"

"Then the government says Trump tried to get some states to send in Trump electors instead of Biden electors. And only a tiny handful of states did that," Watters said. "They mailed in some Trump electors to the archivist and to the Senate, and then the Senate threw them in the garbage and ratified the Biden electors. That was it."

"Then they say Trump broke the law when he asked [Vice President Mike] Pence to 'do the right thing' -- to not certify and to kick it back to the states," he continued. "That was a different legal interpretation than many people had at the time, but it was a difference of opinion, and it didn't matter because Pence didn't do it."

"Then they're saying the Jan. 6 protesters, because of Trump's lies, slowed down the certification for a couple of hours," the Fox News host added. "That's it. Those are the charges."

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