Trump Lawyers Fight Order That Would Limit What He Can Say About Jan. 6 Evidence

“In a trial about First Amendment rights, the government seeks to restrict First Amendment rights," the ex-president's attorneys argued.
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Former President Donald Trump’s attorneys asked a federal judge to reject a proposed protective order in the government’s election conspiracy case, claiming the effort to limit any public release of evidence would restrict his First Amendment rights.

Special counsel Jack Smith’s team first asked U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan on Friday to issue a protective order related to any evidence shared with Trump’s team as lawyers prepare for trial. Though requesting such orders is not unusual, prosecutors suggested Trump’s bombastic use of social media could be a concern as the case moves forward.

Smith’s team included a screenshot of a Truth Social message Trump posted last week, declaring in all caps: “IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I”M COMING AFTER YOU!”

A protective order is a relatively standard move that would limit how Trump and his legal team can use evidence collected by prosecutors and shared with Trump’s side before the trial begins. Generally, a court can order that such evidence be used only for work on the case and not be publicly released.

Trump’s lawyers filed their own motion in court Monday asking the judge to limit a protective order to “genuinely sensitive” material.

“In a trial about First Amendment rights, the government seeks to restrict First Amendment rights,” Trump’s attorneys wrote. “Worse, it does so against its administration’s primary political opponent, during an election season in which the administration, prominent party members, and media allies have campaigned on the indictment and proliferated its false allegations.”

The attorneys added that any claim Trump would release secret grand jury information was merely “provocative.”

Smith’s team quickly fired back Monday, accusing the former president of trying to “try the case in the media rather than in the courtroom.” In a filing, prosecutor Thomas Windom blasted a Trump attorney for appearing on “five television programs” on Sunday to discuss the case in “detail.”

Chutkan ordered the two sides to meet on Tuesday and said a hearing would be held no later than Friday to decide on the matter.

Prosecutors have expressed their worry that Trump will continue to attack the case, go after witnesses and inflame his supporters. The former president spent the weekend after his indictment lambasting Smith as “deranged” and saying Chutkan should recuse herself.

“The defendant has previously issued public statements on social media regarding witnesses, judges, attorneys, and others associated with legal matters pending against him,” Smith’s team wrote in Friday’s filing. “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.”

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