By ERIC TUCKER (Associated Press)
WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal prosecutors are in search of an order that will forestall Donald Trump from making “inflammatory” and “intimidating” feedback about witnesses, attorneys and different individuals concerned within the prison case charging the previous president with scheming to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
Special counsel Jack Smith’s staff mentioned in a movement filed Friday that such a “narrow, well-defined” order was essential to protect the integrity of the case and to keep away from prejudicing potential jurors.
Prosecutors had foreshadowed for weeks their considerations about Trump’s verbal assaults, however Friday’s request marks the primary time they’ve proposed formal motion to rein in speech that they are saying dangers tainting the case and inflicting court docket employees and witnesses to stay in worry of being focused. The movement lays out what prosecutors say is a sample of “false and inflammatory” statements in regards to the case in addition to feedback meant to intimidate or harass individuals he believes are potential witnesses in opposition to him.
“Since the grand jury returned an indictment in this case, the defendant has repeatedly and widely disseminated public statements attacking the citizens of the District of Columbia, the Court, prosecutors, and prospective witnesses,” prosecutors wrote. “Through his statements, the defendant threatens to undermine the integrity of these proceedings and prejudice the jury pool.”
They mentioned Trump’s rhetoric has already had an affect, noting how jurors within the trial of a person convicted of collaborating within the Jan. 6, 2021, riot on the U.S. Capitol not too long ago despatched a notice conveying concern that he might need details about their identification.
If the order is granted, Trump could be compelled to dramatically restrict the kind of feedback he makes in regards to the case at the same time as he seeks to show his prison woes — the Washington prosecution is one among 4 that he at the moment faces — to his political benefit whereas operating to reclaim the White House in 2024. Still, it was not instantly clear what sanctions Trump may face if he fails to curb his speech or how the decide, Tanya Chutkan, would possibly implement even a restricted gag order.
Trump confirmed no indicators of firming down his phrases, complaining in regards to the movement on Truth Social shortly after it was filed and repeating his declare that the FBI and Justice Department had been “weaponized.” He repeated his acquainted refrains that President Joe Biden was “crooked” and that Smith was “deranged.”
“They Leak, Lie, & Sue, & they won’t allow me to SPEAK,” Trump wrote.
Speaking to the Family Research Council in Washington later Friday night time, mentioned Smith “wants to take away my First Amendment rights.”
“They want to see if they can silence me. So the media, the fake news, will ask me a question. ‘I’m sorry, I won’t be able to answer that.’ How do you think we do in that election? So we’re gonna have a little bit of fun with that, I think,” Trump mentioned.
Trump’s attorneys additionally oppose the request, prosecutors wrote of their movement, and a Trump spokesperson mentioned in a press release: “This is nothing more than blatant election interference because President Trump is by far the leading candidate in this race. The American people — the voters — see right through this un-Constitutional charade and will send President Trump back to the White House.”
Beyond the slim gag order, prosecutors additionally requested for an order that will forestall the Trump staff from contacting District of Columbia residents to conduct polling, jury research and focus teams with out the decide’s permission.
The efforts to weaken religion within the court docket system, the prosecutors wrote, mirror his assaults on the 2020 election, which he falsely claimed that he had gained.
“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 of their movement is a publish on his Truth Social platform days after the indictment during which Trump wrote, in all capital letters, “If you go after me, I’m coming after you!” He has additionally repeatedly alleged on social media that the case in opposition to him is “rigged” and that he can’t obtain a good trial.
And he has attacked in private phrases the prosecutors bringing the case — calling Smith “deranged” and his staff “thugs” — in addition to the Chutkan, the decide presiding over the case.
The challenge surfaced final week with the disclosure by the Justice Department that it sought to file a movement associated to “daily” public statements by Trump that it mentioned it feared would taint the jury pool. Chutkan on Friday granted permission to prosecutors to file a redacted movement publicly, with names and figuring out info of people who say they’ve been harassed because of Trump’s assaults blacked out.
Also Friday, Smith’s staff pushed again in opposition to the Trump staff request to have Chutkan recuse herself from the case. Defense attorneys had cited prior feedback from Chutkan that they are saying forged doubt on her potential to be truthful, however prosecutors responded that there was no legitimate foundation for her to step apart.
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