Judge Cannon Smacks Down Jack Smith’s Latest Effort To Silence Trump


Florida U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon on Monday jettisoned attempts by special counsel Jack Smith to have another gag order issued against former President Donald Trump in his classified documents case, one that would specifically protect Smith’s team from public scrutiny by the former president.

During a special hearing, Judge Cannon appeared disinclined to grant Smith’s motion to impose limitations on President Trump’s ability to publicly criticize law enforcement officials or agencies such as the FBI, which raided Mar-a-Lago in August of 2022 as it searched for the documents at the center of the case. Smith argued in a filing that President Trump’s rhetoric is dangerous, inflammatory, and invites violence against officers, according to the Washington Post. Cannon did not immediately rule on the motion, which would have added another condition to Trump’s bail; instead, she is almost certain to postpone a decision past Thursday’s presidential debate, affording Trump a national audience to whom he can air his grievances.

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The recommendation by Smith came after Trump posted on Truth Social that FBI agents were authorized or hoping to use deadly force during their raid on Mar-a-Lago, a startling revelation that came to light following orders by Judge Cannon to remove redactions on much of Smith’s documented evidence. Smith and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, who authorized the raid, have said that the deadly force provision is typical in all FBI raids and that Mar-a-Lago was no exception. In his post, Trump stated that President Joe Biden “AUTHORIZED THE FBI TO USE DEADLY (LETHAL) FORCE. NOW WE KNOW FOR SURE, THAT JOE BIDEN IS A SERIOUS THREAT TO DEMOCRACY.”

President Trump has already suffered two gag orders in his other cases. His Manhattan hush money trial saw Trump fined $9,000 for violating a gag order limiting his ability to criticize court officials and the judge’s daughter, a Democratic political operative tied to Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris. Similarly, the Obama-appointed judge in Trump’s federal J6 case has imposed a gag order on him to inhibit any witness tampering, ruling that Trump’s words do not have to carry a “clear and present danger” in order to be curtailed.

While the latest motion by Smith doesn’t technically fall under the definition of a gag order, the Post reports it could function in similar ways. Most notably, it offers avenues for faster imprisonment of the former president.

Prosecutor David Harbach on Monday stumbled as he outlined what he deemed would be “dangerous” to the investigators. At one point, Judge Cannon expressed frustration after Harbach stated he wasn’t being allowed to fully explain his reasoning for the request. “Mr. Harbach, I don’t appreciate your tone,” Cannon said, the Post added, saying that she expected decorum “at all times. If you are unable to do that, I’m sure one of your colleagues can.” Harbach later apologized to the judge.

After the prosecutor was finished arguing how Trump’s words are “are nowhere close to the line” of protected free speech, Judge Cannon suggested a new restriction on Trump’s bail was unnecessary, pointing out she had already agreed with prosecutors to redact the names of FBI witnesses. Harbach countered that some of the witnesses’ names are already public on the internet and Cannon shouldn’t wait for something unfortunate to happen to one of them. Trump’s attorney Todd Blanche rebutted the charge that his client could incite such violence.

“Of course, President Trump has absolutely no desire for anything bad to happen to law enforcement,” Blanche said. “It is a critique of President Biden and his Justice Department and it is completely fair and protected political speech.”

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