Jack Smith Urges for a ‘Narrow’ Gag Order: A Call to Action on Restricting Confidentiality

Former U.S. President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a South Dakota Republican party rally in Rapid City, South Dakota, U.S. September 8, 2023.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

WASHINGTON — Special counsel Jack Smith filed a motion on Friday, urging a federal judge to prevent former President Donald Trump from discussing the credibility of witnesses and evidence in his federal election interference trial in D.C. The motion highlighted Trump’s aggressive social media posts targeting potential witnesses, including former Vice President Mike Pence, as well as the judge and U.S. attorneys in the case.

The prosecution argued that Trump’s public attacks inspire threats and harassment against his targets and have already resulted in real-world consequences, such as a racist death threat made to the court after Trump’s indictment. They requested that U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan impose the same restrictions on Trump as his lawyers face.

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This restriction would prevent Trump from making public statements about witnesses’ identities, testimonies, or credibility, as well as the merits of the case or the evidence. However, based on Trump’s past statements, such a ruling could potentially lead to additional charges if he violates the order.

If the judge issues the order, it could significantly impact Trump’s remarks on his social media platform, Truth Social, and at campaign rallies where he frequently criticizes the prosecution team and potential witnesses. Trump’s trial is set to begin on March 4, 2024, just before the Super Tuesday primary contests that could secure him the Republican nomination.

In response to the motion, Trump’s campaign accused prosecutors of attempting to infringe on his First Amendment rights, calling it blatant election interference. The campaign emphasized Trump’s position as the leading candidate in the race. Additionally, the prosecution requested pre-approval for any polling of potential jurors to prevent biased influence.

The indictment against Trump includes charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States, obstruction of an official proceeding, and violating a law that protects constitutional rights by attempting to overturn the 2020 election results.

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