Federal special counsel Jack Smith is using a seemingly threatening social media post by former President Donald Trump to strengthen his case for a protective order in his federal trial over attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. The federal government is looking for this order to be put in place before turning information over to Trump’s legal team as part of the discovery process.
In a motion filed Friday, prosecutors said, “Such a restriction is particularly important in this case because the defendant has previously issued public statements on social media regarding witnesses, judges, attorneys, and others associated with legal matters pending against him.”
The motion continues: “in recent days, regarding this case, the defendant has issued multiple posts — either specifically or by implication — including the following, which the defendant posted just hours ago.”
It then includes a screenshot of Trump’s post on his Truth Social platform, reading, “IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU!”
The government is seeking the order due to what it describes as “sensitive and confidential information” in the materials it will be turning over to Trump’s team in discovery. It previously asked for such an order on Wednesday, with Trump’s team proposing their own version of the order on Friday, but prosecutors argue that this version is insufficient.
The motion argues that if Trump were to put out public posts with details obtained in discovery, “it could have a harmful chilling effect on witnesses or adversely affect the fair administration of justice in this case.”
Trump’s team has said that it needs to receive discovery from prosecutors before proposing a trial date and estimating how long the defense will need for its case.
The order also includes the option for either side to seek modifications to it at any time. The government argues that means “the defendant is in a better position if he receives discovery under the proposed order’s conditions rather than receiving no discovery while this motion is pending.”
They also asked for the government to issue the order without waiting for a brief in response from Trump’s team. The judge ordered Trump’s team to respond by Monday, but they responded with a motion Saturday asking for an extension of their time to file a response.
The proposed protection order doesn’t put any limits on materials already in possession by either side, or on public documents. It allows the defendant and his defense counsel to use materials turned over by the government in discovery in connection with his defense, while preventing them from disclosing those materials outside of that defense and potential witnesses.
You can read the full proposed order here.
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