Smith Seeks Donald Trump ‘Gag Order’ in Heat of 2024 Presidential Campaign
Special Counsel Jack Smith responded on Monday evening to the Trump legal team’s objection to a motion for protective order, similar in some regards to a “gag order,” due to alleged concerns that the former president’s remarks could become problematic for the trial.
“The central purpose of criminal discovery is to provide the defendant with materials necessary to prepare for a fair trial,” the Special Counsel’s office argued. “To facilitate the efficient production of discovery to the defense, the Government proposed a reasonable protective order consistent with current practice in this District. The defendant instead proposed an order designed to allow him to try this case in the media rather than in the courtroom. To safeguard witness privacy and the integrity of these proceedings, the Court should enter the Government’s proposed protective order.”
The court filing then listed several allegedly problematic remarks by the president that he has made in defense during the 2024 election campaign.
• On ABC: “This is an attack on you and members of the press. I’m really surprised people haven’t spoken out about it. What the government – what the Biden administration is trying to do is prevent the press from learning about exculpatory and helpful information, evidence that the people have a right to know about. What the position of the prosecutor is non sensitive, ordinary evidence should not be disclosed to the press. That’s shocking. Not only do they want to violate President Trump’s First Amendment rights, they want to violate Freedom of the Press, and I’m surprised that the major networks aren’t filing papers along with me on Monday.” Defense counsel then suggested he could “get [the ABC reporter] a lawyer” to engage in litigation over the protective order.
• On NBC: “Well, I’m shocked and I can find you a lawyer to address this, but I’m shocked that all of the news media outlets aren’t protesting what the government is trying to do. They’re trying to say that we have discovery that’s not sensitive, but we don’t want the press to hear about it, and Mr. Trump, our team is saying, President Trump is saying that if there’s evidence out there that the government has that’s exculpatory or informative, then the press has a right to know, but the Biden administration doesn’t want the press to know that, and I’m shocked that there aren’t petitions now filed in the district court opposing what the Biden administration is doing.”
• On CBS: “We’re all in favor of protecting sensitive and highly sensitive information, but it’s unprecedented to have all information hidden in a criminal case, including, by the way, information that might be exculpatory and might be exonerative of President Trump. The Biden administration wants to keep that information from the American people.” •
On FOX: “The Biden administration wants the judge to put in place an order that will prevent the press from obtaining exculpatory and material information that might be relevant to these proceedings, even though Mr. Trump, President Trump, has argued from the very beginning, as I have, that this is an attack, this indictment is an attack on his First Amendment rights. Now what the Biden administration wants to do is deny all Americans the opportunity to learn non-sensitive information about what the case involves, in a political season.” Defense counsel continued, “I’m convinced the Biden administration does not want the American people to see the truth, and they acted on it by filing this protective order an effort to keep important information about this case from the press. I’m shocked that all the networks haven’t lined up and filed pleadings already, objecting to this very broad attempt by the Biden administration to keep information away from the American people during the election season. The American people have a right to know. Of course, Joe Biden doesn’t want that to happen.”
The Special Counsel has replied by confirming that this is essentially what it aims to do by muzzling Trump during the campaign, while allowing the prosecution and its media allies to accuse him of wrongdoing at will with no legal ability to respond based on discovery evidence.
On Friday, federal prosecutors submitted the order to U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan [left AP photo], who is presiding over the case related to Trump, originating from the DOJ’s probe into the January 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol disturbance. Last week, Trump pleaded not guilty to all the four counts linked to this case, accusing him of trying to hold onto power even after his defeat in the 2020 presidential race.
Special Counsel Jack Smith last week highlighted a post from Trump’s Truth Social in the protective order request, suggesting that Trump might try to threaten the witnesses in the case by revealing confidential DOJ evidence.
The former president had warned his enemies, “IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU!”
The prosecutors had requested the judge to restrict the details Trump could disclose about the January 6 case. The deadline for Trump’s defense team to address the DOJ’s order was 5 p.m. on Monday.
Trump’s Monday response stated, “In a trial about First Amendment rights, the government seeks to restrict First Amendment rights.” It further criticized the approach by adding, “Worse, it does so against its administration’s main political rival, amidst an electoral period where the current administration, key party figures, and supportive media have been highlighting the charges and spreading its unsubstantiated claims.”
Moreover, Trump’s attorneys believe the suggested protective order is excessively extensive and have requested Judge Chutkan to consider a modified order that only bars the dissemination of “sensitive materials” to the public.
Judge Chutkan has been one of the most aggressive judges in overseeing January 6 cases, maintaining a perfect jail-sentencing record, even for crimes where the Justice department did not seek a prison sentence.
(TLB) published this article from Becker News as compiled and written by Kyle Becker
Header featured image (edited) credit: Trump/org. BN article/Smith insert/KEVIN WURM/REUTERS
Emphasis and Photo content added by (TLB)
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