Special counsel Jack Smith responded Monday evening to Trump’s legal team’s objection to a motion for a protective order, similar in some respects to a “gag order,” due to alleged concerns that the statements of the former president could become problematic for the trial.
“The central purpose of criminal discovery is to provide the accused with the necessary materials to prepare for a fair trial,” the Special Counsel’s office argued. “To facilitate the efficient production of discovery for the defense, the Government proposed a reasonable protective order consistent with current practice in this District. Instead, the defendant moved for an order intended to allow him to try this case in the media rather than in court. To safeguard the privacy of witnesses and the integrity of these proceedings, the Court should enter the Government’s proposed protective order.”
The court filing then listed several allegedly problematic statements the president has made in defense during the 2024 election campaign.
• To ABC: “This is an attack on you and members of the press. I’m really surprised people haven’t spoken up about this. What the government, what the Biden administration is trying to do, is to prevent the press from knowing exculpatory and useful information, evidence that people have a right to know. No matter how sensitive the prosecutor’s position is, ordinary evidence should not be disclosed to the press. This is shocking. Not only do they want to violate President Trump’s First Amendment rights, they want to violate the Freedom of the Press, and I’m surprised the major networks aren’t filing documents with me on Monday.” The defense attorney suggested he might ” achieve [the ABC reporter] an attorney” to participate in protection order litigation.
• To NBC: “Well, I’m surprised and I can get you a lawyer to address this, but I’m surprised that all the media isn’t protesting what the government is trying to do. They’re trying to say we have a discovery that’s not sensitive, but we don’t want the press to hear about it, and Mr. Trump, our team says, President Trump says if there’s evidence that the government if that’s exculpatory or informative, then the press has a right to know, but the Biden administration doesn’t want the press to know, and I’m surprised there aren’t petitions filed in district court now against what the Biden administration is doing.”
• On CBS: “We’re all for protecting sensitive and highly sensitive information, but it’s unprecedented to have all the information withheld in a criminal case, including, of course, information that could be exculpatory and exculpatory of President Trump. . The Biden administration wants to keep this information from the American people.” •
On FOX: “The Biden administration wants the judge to establish an order that will prevent the press from obtaining exculpatory information and material that could be relevant to these proceedings, even though Mr. Trump, President Trump, has argued since principle. , as I have, that this is an attack, this indictment is an attack on their First Amendment rights. Now what the Biden administration wants to do is deny all Americans the opportunity to learn information not sensitive about what the case entails, in a political season.” The defense attorney continued, “I am convinced that the Biden administration does not want the American people to see the truth, and they acted accordingly by filing this protective order in an effort to withhold important information about this case of press. I’m surprised that every network hasn’t lined up and filed allegations, opposing this 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 responded by confirming that this is essentially what he seeks to muzzle Trump on the campaign trail, while allowing the prosecution and his media allies to accuse him of wrongdoing at will without legal capacity to respond based on- se in evidence of discovery.
On Friday, federal prosecutors presented the warrant to U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is presiding over the Trump-related case, stemming from the DOJ’s investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riot. Last week, Trump pleaded not guilty to four charges related to that case, accusing him of trying to hold on to power even after his defeat in the 2020 presidential race.
Special counsel Jack Smith highlighted a post by Trump’s Truth Social last week in the protective order request, suggesting that Trump might try to threaten witnesses in the case by revealing confidential DOJ evidence.
The former president had warned his enemies: “IF YOU COME FOR ME, I’LL COME BEFORE YOU!”
Prosecutors had asked the judge to restrict the details Trump could reveal about the Jan. 6 case. The deadline for Trump’s defense team to address the DOJ order was Monday at 5 p.m.
Trump’s response on Monday said: “In a trial about First Amendment rights, the government seeks to restrict First Amendment rights.” He further criticized the approach, adding: “Worse, he is doing it against his administration’s main political rival, in the middle of an election period in which the current administration, key party figures and media supporters have been prominent the charges and spreading their baseless claims.”
In addition, Trump’s lawyers believe the suggested protective order is overly broad and have asked Judge Chutkan to consider a modified order that only prohibits the release of “sensitive material” to the public. Judge Chutkan has been one of the most aggressive judges in overseeing the January 6 cases, maintaining a perfect record of prison sentences, even for crimes where the Department of Justice did not seek a sentence in prison
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