Former President Donald J. Trump’s attorneys responded angrily to the government’s request for a gag order on Monday, arguing that the attempt to “muzzle” him during his presidential campaign violated his free speech rights.
The attorneys filed a 25-page response in which they attempted to turn the tables on the government by accusing the prosecutors of employing “inflammatory rhetoric” that “violated longstanding rules of prosecutorial ethics.”
The documents were submitted in Federal District Court in Washington ten days after prosecutors from special counsel Jack Smith’s office sought Judge Tanya S. Chutkan to impose a limited gag order on Mr. Trump in the election meddling case. They said the injunction was issued to prevent Mr. Trump’s “near-daily” bombardment of threatening social media posts and to mitigate the impact of his words on possible witnesses and jurors. It will begin in March in the nation’s capital.
The attorneys’ resistance to the request has set the stage for a confrontation that will be settled by Judge Chutkan, an Obama appointee who has felt the sting of Mr Trump’s threats firsthand.
Immediately following the former president’s August 24th internet post reading, “IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU,” a lady left a voicemail threat for Judge Chutkan in her chambers.
Constraining pre-trial publicity in high-profile cases often necessitates the use of gag orders, which restrict what trial participants may say outside of court. A political current of stress has been injected into an already tense court struggle by the move to silence Mr. Trump as he reinforces his position as the front-runner for the Republican presidential candidate.
The fact that Mr. Trump has made the election meddling case and the three other criminal indictments he is facing central to his campaign has only served to increase the tension.
His fundamental political argument is that he is being persecuted rather than prosecuted, which may place him in conflict with Judge Chutkan but is also protected by the First Amendment. She forewarned Mr. Trump early on that she would do everything it took to protect the fairness of the trial and prevent him from pressuring witnesses or tainting possible jurors.
Mr. Trump’s legal team has been using the First Amendment as a defence almost from the moment he was indicted, claiming that he is being persecuted for his political speech. Mr. Singer reiterated his previous claims in his recent court filings, arguing that the jury pool was not tainted by Mr. Trump’s public comments about the case.
The proposed gag order, he added, was not as narrowly targeted as the administration had claimed. He described it as “sweepingly broad” and “undefined,” meaning it may apply to everyone who would testify against President Trump in court.
Mr. Trump has a lengthy history of using social media to launch colourful and often brutal attacks against his detractors. But as a defendant, he is up against the typical constraints of the criminal justice system as he faces four charges in four locations for his proclivity for intimidating and harassing anyone in his way.
They also pointed out that Mr. Trump has been critical of Washington state citizens, who may one day be asked to serve on his jury. He said that the city was “filthy and crime-ridden” and that its population “is over 95% anti-Trump.”
Singer downplayed the significance of Trump’s comments, claiming the president “never called for any improper or unlawful action” and that no one was “truly harmed” by Trump’s words.
There is “zero reason to believe that will change” because of Trump’s political comments, he said. “Every hearing in this case has gone forward on schedule, without incident.”
Even though the investigation is being headed by Mr. Smith, who was selected by the Justice Department as an independent prosecutor, Mr. Trump’s legal team picked up an argument it has used previously and tried to portray the prosecution of the former president as a political attack undertaken by President Biden.