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Feds seek gag order on Trump in Jan. 6 election subversion case

The prosecution noted several instances in which the former president has disparaged the court, prosecutors, the people of Washington and his own Vice President Mike Pence.

WASHINGTON (CN) — Special counsel Jack Smith asked Friday that the federal judge overseeing Donald Trump’s Jan. 6 election subversion case impose a gag order to limit the former president’s slew of inflammatory statements that could intimidate potential witnesses and taint the jury pool.

The motion calls for a “narrowly tailored order” that restricts “certain prejudicial extrajudicial statements,” like social media posts the former president made following his four criminal charges stemming from his efforts to spread misinformation about the 2020 election and enact schemes to keep him in the White House. 

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is presiding over the case, had previously warned John Lauro, Trump’s lead attorney in Washington, and other members of the defense that if their client continued to make inflammatory comments, she would be forced to move quickly to trial, which is currently scheduled to begin March 4, 2024. 

Molly Gaston, a member of the special counsel team, referenced a Truth Social post from Trump the day after his Aug. 3 arraignment, where he wrote “IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU!” 

“He has made good on his threat,” Gaston wrote. “Since the indictment in this case, the defendant has spread disparaging and inflammatory posts on Truth Social on a near-daily basis regarding the citizens of the District of Columbia, the court, prosecutors, and prospective witnesses.” 

She also cited seven instances following the 2020 election where Trump targeted people online he felt were responsible for his loss and spread misinformation that they were committing election fraud. Once Trump targeted and named individuals, threats from his supporters soon followed. 

“Like his previous public disinformation campaign regarding the 2020 presidential election, the defendant’s recent extrajudicial statements are intended to undermine public confidence in an institution — the judicial system — and to undermine confidence in and intimidate individuals — the court, the jury pool, witnesses and prosecutors.” 

Gaston also included screenshots of other Truth Social posts that prosecutors say are an attempt to bolster and denigrate certain potential witnesses in both the public and the jury pool’s eyes. 

One included post shows clear support for Rudy Giuliani, who Trump calls “the greatest mayor in the history of New York City,” when he appeared at the Fulton County jail in Georgia to answer a criminal indictment, along with Trump and 17 others. 

A second post takes aim at former Vice President Mike Pence — who is also running against Trump in the 2024 Republican primaries — calling him “Liddle Mike Pence” and saying he “has gone to the Dark Side” and “was not a very good person.” 

Gaston further notes that Trump’s rhetoric has already led to his supporters making direct threats against Chutkan, like one incident on Aug. 5 in which a Trump supporter called the Obama appointee’s chambers and made racist death threats against her.

The request comes as the parties argue over a demand by Trump for Chutkan to recuse herself, claiming she is biased against the former president. Smith’s team defended Chutkan and denounced the request as “cherry-picking” from statements she had made during several Jan. 6 sentencing hearings alluding to Trump and his role behind the Capitol riot. 

Chutkan had already imposed a protective order against Trump, a common occurrence in criminal proceedings, setting strict rules for how he handles sensitive evidence from the case to keep him from sharing it publicly. 

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Categories / Criminal, National, Politics

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