A Washington federal court judge blocked ex-President Donald Trump from going public with potential trial evidence shared with his lawyers in an upcoming election fraud case after prosecutors cited his history of social media tirades.
The ruling from District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan followed a Friday four-page filing from Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith asking for a strict order to muzzle Trump from sharing information culled from discovery documents or evidence.
“If the defendant were to begin issuing public posts using details — or, for example, grand jury transcripts — obtained in discovery here, it could have a harmful chilling effect on witnesses or adversely affect the fair administration of justice in this case,” wrote Smith.
On Friday, Trump made this menacing all-caps posting on Truth Social: “IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU!”
Earlier in the week, he mentioned the prosecutor by name in another posting: “I hear that deranged Jack Smith, in order to interfere with the presidential election of 2024, will be putting out yet another fake indictment of your favorite president.”
The court papers also cited previous Trump social media outbursts “regarding witnesses, judges, attorneys, and others associated with legal matters pending against him.”
The defendant pleaded innocent Thursday in the alleged sweeping plot to overturn the 2020 election results and block the peaceful White House transition of President Joe Biden in 2021. Unlike a full gag order, this would only limit what Trump and his legal team could share publicly about the prosecution.
The judge said her ruling was meant to “expedite the flow of discovery material between parties and to adequately protect certain information that the United States intends to produce to the defendant.”
Chutkan added the order does not affect publicly available records independent of the government’s documents or any records “which the defendant or the defense counsel came into possession by independent means, unrelated to the discovery process.”
Trump was given until 5 p.m. on Monday to respond to the judge’s order, with court filings asking the defendant to include “a revised version of that Protective Order with any modifications in redline” if he disagrees with the government plan.
Smith said a Friday protective order proposal from Trump attorneys “did not, in the government’s estimation, protect numerous categories of sensitive materials, including grand jury materials and sealed search warrant affidavits.”
The special counsel said prosecutors were previously prevented from sharing documents with the Trump defense team in a timely way because of their inability to reach an agreement with his lawyers.
“The government seeks to provide the defendant with discovery as soon as possible, including certain discovery to which the defendant is not entitled at this time,” he wrote in the filing.