Special counsel Jack Smith’s team said in a motion filed Friday that such a “narrow, well-defined” order was necessary to preserve the integrity of the case and to avoid prejudicing potential jurors.
Prosecutors had foreshadowed for weeks their concerns about Trump’s verbal attacks, but Friday’s request marks the first time they have proposed formal action to rein in speech that they say risks tainting the case and causing court workers and witnesses to live in fear of being targeted. The motion details what prosecutors claim is a pattern of “false, inflammatory, and harassing” comments about the case and intimidation or harassment of people who he believes to be potential witnesses against him. The defendant’s statements threaten to undermine the integrity and bias of the jury pool. The Washington prosecution is just one of the four that Trump is currently facing. He is also running for the White House again in 2024. If the order is granted, Trump will be forced to limit his comments about the case. It was unclear what sanctions Trump would face if his speech was not curbed or how Tanya Chutkan might enforce a gag order. He reiterated his usual refrains, saying that Smith is “deranged” and President Joe Biden is “crooked.” Trump stated that Smith wanted to “take away my First Amendment rights” and “my freedom to speak freely and openly” in an address to the Concerned Women for America Leadership Summit dinner on Friday. The American people — the voters — will see right through this un-Constitutional charade and send President Trump back to the White House, the spokesperson said. The American people — the voters — see right through this un-Constitutional charade and will send President Trump back to the White House,” the spokesperson said.
Beyond the narrow gag order, prosecutors also asked for an order that would prevent the Trump team from contacting District of Columbia residents to conduct polling, jury studies and focus groups without the judge’s permission.
The efforts to weaken faith in the court system, the prosecutors wrote, mirror his attacks on the 2020 election, which he falsely claimed that he had won.
“The defendant is now attempting to do the same thing in this criminal case — to undermine confidence in the criminal justice system and prejudice the jury pool through disparaging and inflammatory attacks on the citizens of this District, the Court, prosecutors, and prospective witnesses,” they wrote.
Among the statements cited by prosecutors in their motion is a a post on his Truth Social platform days after the indictment in which Trump wrote, in all capital letters, “If you go after me, I’m coming after you!” The defendant has repeatedly claimed on social media that his case is “rigged,” and that he can’t receive a fair court trial. He also attacked the prosecutors who brought the case, calling Smith “deranged,” and Chutkan granted permission for prosecutors to submit a redacted version of the motion on Friday. The names and identifying details of those who claim to have been harassed by Trump’s attacks were blacked out. Chutkan’s previous comments were cited by defense lawyers as a reason to doubt her fairness. However, prosecutors said that she had no legitimate basis to recuse herself.