WASHINGTON — Special counsel Jack Smith is asking the federal judge presiding over Donald Trump’s Jan. 6 case to stop the former president from making inflammatory statements that he said are endangering witnesses and will make finding a fair jury difficult.
“The defendant has repeatedly and widely disseminated public statements attacking the citizens of the District of Columbia, the court, prosecutors, and prospective witnesses,” Smith wrote in a Friday filing to U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan. “The defendant knows that when he publicly attacks individuals and institutions, he inspires others to perpetrate threats and harassment against his targets.”
Trump responded to the request barely an hour after it was posted by the court with a statement similar to the ones Smith spoke of in his 19-page filing. “I am not allowed to COMMENT? They Leak, Lie, & Sue, & they won’t allow me to SPEAK? How else would I explain that Jack Smith is DERANGED, or Crooked Joe is INCOMPETENT?” Trump wrote on his social media platform, Truth Social.
In his filing, Smith cited Trump’s Aug. 23 post after his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, was charged in a separate Georgia case: “THE ELECTION WAS RIGGED & STOLLEN. HOW SAD FOR OUR COUNTRY. MAGA!”
He also included in the filing an Aug. 5 post in which Trump attacked former Vice President Mike Pence, who refused to do as Trump demanded and declare him the winner of the 2020 election. “He’s delusional, and now he wants to show he’s a tough guy,” Trump wrote.
Smith provided several examples of witnesses, whom Trump supporters have targeted for harassment and threats, whose names were blacked out in the filing. Details in the filing, though, suggest that Smith is citing Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, two Atlanta elections workers whom Trump wrongly accused of fraud, as well as Chris Krebs, the DHS official in charge of election security whom Trump fired after Krebs said there had been no significant fraud.
“The defendant continues these attacks on individuals precisely because he knows that in doing so, he is able to roil the public and marshal and prompt his supporters,” Smith wrote. “As he acknowledged in a televised town hall on May 10, 2023, his supporters listen to him ‘like no one else.’”
Smith further cited Trump’s posting on Aug. 4, the day after his federal court arraignment, when he wrote: “IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU!”
“And he has made good on his threat. Since the indictment in this case, the defendant has spread disparaging and inflammatory public posts on Truth Social on a near-daily basis,” Smith wrote.
Smith also showed examples of Trump’s attacks against Chutkan and against the special counsel’s office, including Smith himself.
“Put simply, those involved in the criminal justice process who read and hear the defendant’s disparaging and inflammatory messages (from court personnel, to prosecutors, to witnesses, to potential jurors) may reasonably fear that they could be the next targets of the defendant’s attacks,” Smith wrote.
“The government seeks a narrow, well-defined restriction that is targeted at extrajudicial statements that present a serious and substantial danger of materially prejudicing this case,” Smith wrote, adding that he would also like Chutkan to monitor Trump’s attempts to poll the District of Columbia because such a survey could actually be designed to sway public opinion in favor of Trump ahead of a trial.
“The defendant’s past conduct, including conduct that has taken place after and as a direct result of the indictment in this case, amply demonstrates the need for this order,” Smith wrote. “As illustrated by the examples discussed above, the defendant’s statements reasonably could have a material impact on the impartiality of the jury pool while simultaneously influencing witness testimony.”