Jack Smith has approached a federal judge with a request. He wants Trump to clarify if he plans to use the "advice of counsel" as a defense in his upcoming federal election interference trial.
Smith's motion is rooted in Trump's repeated public declarations of his intent to use the "advice of counsel" defense. Smith argues that by the exhibit list deadline on December 18, Trump's legal team should also finalize and declare their trial strategy.
Barbara McQuade, a law professor at the University of Michigan and a former U.S. attorney, has weighed in on the matter.
She believes that Smith's request is of paramount importance. If Trump decides to use this defense, it would mean waiving his attorney-client privilege. Consequently, he would have to disclose all documents related to the legal advice he received.
Using the "advice of counsel" defense, Trump could admit to the alleged election fraud but claim innocence, Yahoo News reported.
He would argue that he acted in good faith based on his lawyers' advice. This defense strategy, if Trump chooses to adopt it, would put him in a tight spot. He would have to decide between using this defense and revealing all communications with his lawyers, including Sidney Powell and John Eastman, or keeping those communications confidential.
McQuade speculates that the materials exchanged between Trump and his lawyers could be explosive. They might not only challenge the "advice of counsel" defense but could also contain other admissions.
These could be leveraged by Smith during the trial.
She further elaborates that regardless of the outcome of Smith's motion, Trump will eventually face a crucial decision. He will have to weigh the merits of a potentially weak defense against the risks of revealing his cache of secrets.
It's a classic case of being caught between a rock and a hard place. The former president must decide whether to protect his secrets or to use a defense that might expose more than he's comfortable with.
Smith's recent move showcases his determination to get to the bottom of the case. By pushing for clarity on Trump's defense strategy, he's signaling his intent to leave no stone unturned.
It's evident that Smith believes the "advice of counsel" defense might be Trump's last-ditch effort. And he's doing everything in his power to ensure that he's prepared for whatever comes his way during the trial.
As the trial date approaches, all eyes will be on Trump's next move. Will he opt for the "advice of counsel" defense and risk exposing potentially damaging communications? Or will he choose a different path, keeping his secrets safe but potentially weakening his defense?