Special Counsel Jack Smith has made a controversial yet strategic addition to his prosecutorial team by quietly recruiting Michael Dreeben, a seasoned Supreme Court advocate with a notable history in the Mueller investigation.
The development is a clear signal of the escalating legal battle against former President Donald Trump, a move that critics call a part of a broader “witch hunt” against the former president.
Dreeben, renowned for presenting arguments in over 100 cases at the Supreme Court, possesses a deep understanding of criminal law principles at the apex of the judicial system. His addition to Smith’s team is considered a major enhancement, particularly as they gear up for a possible Supreme Court battle.
Mary McCord, a former senior Justice Department official who overlapped with Dreeben, described him as “cerebral, thoughtful, and brilliant.”
This is widely viewed in various circles as a strategic move to bolster the legal offensive against Trump, utilizing Dreeben’s vast expertise and network within the judicial system.
In contrast to Dreeben’s seasoned profile, Trump’s legal defense comprises at least three Missouri-based lawyers: D. John Sauer, Will Scharf, and Michael Talent. Among them, Sauer, a Rhodes Scholar and Harvard Law graduate who clerked for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, has argued only a single case before the Supreme Court.
Scharf and Talent, meanwhile, have yet to make their debut in the Supreme Court arena. The disparity in experience between the two teams is big, and has not gone unnoticed in legal and political discussions.
If the justices take the case and Dreeben and Sauer go head to head, it will be a study in contrasts. Dreeben is an institutionalist who spent three decades at the Justice Department defending the power of the executive branch to investigate and prosecute crimes — experience that surely will be relevant as he backs Smith’s prosecution of Trump. Sauer, meanwhile, is a veteran of the conservative legal community who’s best known for his involvement in Republican-backed lawsuits that blocked Joe Biden’s student-debt cancellation and accused the Biden administration of social-media censorship .
Critics, including voices from The Gateway Pundit, have been quick to label Dreeben as a “DC swamp lawyer,” framing his addition to Smith’s team as a calculated move to undermine Trump before the 2024 election. The narrative aligns with Trump’s own response, who has vehemently criticized the move, describing it as a desperate attempt by Smith and his team, whom he accuses of suffering from “Trump Derangement Syndrome,” to tarnish his reputation and influence the upcoming election.
The political implications of the legal maneuvering are significant. Smith’s decision to enlist Dreeben, an individual deeply embedded in the Justice Department and with a history in the Mueller probe, is seen by many as an escalation in the legal pursuit of Trump.
It reflects a strategy not just aimed at legal victory but also at gaining a psychological edge in what is increasingly becoming a battle fought in the court of public opinion as much as in the courtroom.
On the other side, Trump’s legal team, though less experienced in Supreme Court advocacy, includes notable conservative legal minds. Sauer, in particular, has gained national attention for spearheading lawsuits challenging policies of the Biden administration.
The legal team, while perhaps lacking in Supreme Court experience, brings its own strengths to the table, including a deep understanding of conservative legal principles and a track record of challenging liberal policies.