Jack Smith Seeks “Gag Order” on President Trump!
Special Counsel Jack Smith, the prosecutor leading the federal case in the former president’s alleged election meddling case, has asked a judge to place Trump under a gag order, limiting how he is able to publicly comment on the case.
Smith’s filing says the “narrowly tailored” order would prevent harassment of witnesses.
Smith said in a motion filed last week that such a “narrow, well-defined” order was necessary to preserve the integrity of the case and to avoid prejudicing potential jurors.
Prosecutors had foreshadowed for weeks their concerns about Trump’s verbal attacks, but Smith’s request marks the first time they have proposed formal action to rein in speech that they say risks tainting the case and causing court workers and witnesses to live in fear of being targeted. The motion lays out what prosecutors say is a pattern of “false and inflammatory” statements about the case as well as comments meant to intimidate or harass people he believes are potential witnesses against 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 said Trump’s rhetoric has already had an impact, noting how jurors in the trial of a man convicted of participating in the January 6, 2021, riot at the US Capitol recently sent a note conveying concern that he might have information about their identity.
If the order is granted, Trump would be forced to dramatically limit the type of comments he makes about the case even as he seeks to turn his criminal woes to his political advantage while running to reclaim the White House in 2024. Still, it was not immediately clear what sanctions Trump could face if he fails to curb his speech or how the judge, Tanya Chutkan, might enforce even a limited gag order.
Trump showed no signs of toning down his words, complaining about the motion on Truth Social shortly after it was filed and repeating his claim that the FBI and Justice Department had been “weaponized.” He repeated his familiar 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, the former president said 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 said.
Trump lawyers released a statement in response to the gag order that read in part, “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 unconstitutional charade and will send President Trump back to the White House.”