(WASHINGTON) — The federal judge overseeing former President Donald Trump’s federal election interference case in Washington, D.C., is set to hear oral arguments Monday on a limited gag order proposed by the government.
Special counsel Jack Smith’s team is urging U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan to impose restrictions on Trump in order to protect potential jurors, citing the former president’s conduct on social media regarding people involved in his various legal battles.
In a court filing last week, Smith’s team specifically cited Trump’s post about a law clerk in his ongoing $250 million civil fraud trial in New York, which prompted the judge in that case to issue an oral order restricting all parties from speaking publicly about his court staff.
“There are other good reasons in this case for the Court to impose these restrictions and enforce this District’s standard prohibition against publicizing jurors’ identities,” Smith’s team said in its filing. “Chief among them is the defendant’s continued use of social media as a weapon of intimidation in court proceedings.”
Trump’s attorneys have vehemently opposed the gag order request in court filings, calling it an affront to Trump’s First Amendment rights and accusing Smith’s team of having political motivations due to Trump’s strong standing in the 2024 presidential race.
Trump in August pleaded not guilty to charges of undertaking a “criminal scheme” to overturn the results of the 2020 election by enlisting a slate of so-called “fake electors,” using the Justice Department to conduct “sham election crime investigations,” trying to enlist the vice president to “alter the election results,” and promoting false claims of a stolen election as the Jan. 6 riot raged — all in an effort to subvert democracy and remain in power.
The special counsel has accused Trump of engaging in a sweeping campaign of “disinformation” and harassment intended to intimidate witnesses, prosecutors and others involved in the prosecution he is facing.
“Like his previous public disinformation campaign regarding the 2020 presidential election, the defendant’s recent extrajudicial statements are intended to undermine public confidence in an institution — the judicial system — and to undermine confidence in and intimidate individuals — the Court, the jury pool, witnesses, and prosecutors,” the special counsel said in a filing last month.
The trial is currently scheduled to begin in March.
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