A Friday court filing from special prosecutor Jack Smith seeks to use former President Donald Trump’s own words against him in an effort to win a protective order on his terms.
A protective order is a legal document that outlines what a defendant in a case can say about the case to the public.
In this case, Smith’s team is requesting that its terms and conditions be adopted before the discovery phase of the case begins. During that phase, the government is required to share with the defense much of the evidence it has against Trump so that the defense can prepare its case.
Trump faces charges of conspiracy and obstruction in connection with his challenges to the results of the 2020 presidential election.
The government’s request to have its version of a protective order approved by the judge notes a social media post from Trump on Friday.
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“IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU!” Trump posted on his Truth Social platform.
The court filing concerning the order noted Smith’s concerns that materials shared with Trump’s defense not be made public.
“All the proposed order seeks to prevent is the improper dissemination or use of discovery materials, including to the public. Such a restriction is particularly important in this case because the defendant has previously issued public statements on social media regarding witnesses, judges, attorneys, and others associated with legal matters pending against him,” the filing said.
“And in recent days, regarding this case, the defendant has issued multiple posts — either specifically or by implication — including the following, which the defendant posted just hours ago,” the filing said, citing Trump’s Truth Social post.
Should a protective order be granted against Trump?
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“If the defendant were to begin issuing public posts using details — or, for example, grand jury transcripts — obtained in discovery here, it could have a harmful chilling effect on witnesses or adversely affect the fair administration of justice in this case,” the filing said.
A representative of the Trump campaign told the Truth Social post had nothing to do with the case, according to The Hill.
“The Truth post cited is the definition of political speech, and was in response to the RINO, China-loving, dishonest special interest groups and Super PACs, like the ones funded by the Koch brothers and the Club for No Growth,” the representative said.
As noted by Fox News, U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan gave Trump’s defense team until 5 p.m. Monday to reply, but the defense wants more time.
“To ensure counsel has adequate time to prepare a fulsome response, Defendant respectfully requests the Court briefly extend this schedule by three days to permit Defendant’s response by August 10, 2023,” Trump’s legal team wrote.
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“Defendant is prepared to confer in good faith regarding an appropriate protective order and hopes the government will accept his invitation to do so,” the defense continued. “In the meantime, an additional three days to brief this important issue is reasonable, consistent with the Local Rules, and serves the interests of justice.”
On Sunday, Trump telegraphed the next phase of his legal strategy on Truth Social.
“THERE IS NO WAY I CAN GET A FAIR TRIAL WITH THE JUDGE ‘ASSIGNED’ TO THE RIDICULOUS FREEDOM OF SPEECH/FAIR ELECTIONS CASE. EVERYBODY KNOWS THIS, AND SO DOES SHE! WE WILL BE IMMEDIATELY ASKING FOR RECUSAL OF THIS JUDGE ON VERY POWERFUL GROUNDS, AND LIKEWISE FOR VENUE CHANGE, OUT IF D.C.,” he wrote.
Chutkan, who has ruled against Trump in an effort to withhold records from the House Jan. 6 committee, has been noted for being tough on Capitol incursion defendants who have come before her.
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