Special counsel cites threatening Trump post in request for protective order in election interference case

Federal prosecutors on Friday asked the judge overseeing former President Donald Trump’s election interference case to bar him from publicly disclosing some of the evidence gathered during their investigation.

In a court filing, attorneys with the special counsel Jack Smith’s office requested that U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan ensure that sensitive materials are used by Trump’s defense team for only the trial, and that the former president view the materials in the presence of his lawyers.

“All the proposed order seeks to prevent is the improper dissemination or use of discovery materials, including to the public,” they wrote. “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.”

Former President Donald Trump (Jeff Swensen / Getty Images)

Former President Donald Trump (Jeff Swensen / Getty Images)

Trump, who was arraigned Thursday on charges that included conspiracy to defraud the United States, pleaded not guilty and has publicly condemned the allegations against him.

Prosecutors went on to say that Trump had written “multiple posts” that mentioned or implied the case, including one that appeared on his Truth Social page Friday afternoon that read: “IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU!”

Trump’s use of details or grand jury transcripts obtained in discovery “could have a harmful chilling effect on witnesses or adversely affect the fair administration of justice in this case,” the prosecutors wrote.

In a statement early Saturday, a Trump spokesperson said, “The Truth post cited is the definition of political speech,” and that it “was in response to the RINO, China-loving, dishonest special interest groups and Super PACs.”

During Thursday’s court hearing, Magistrate Judge Moxila A. Upadhyaya gave Trump a warning that is not typically issued to defendants at arraignments.

“Finally, sir, I want to remind you that it is a crime to try to influence a juror, or to threaten or attempt to bribe a witness or any other person who may have information about your case, or to retaliate against anyone for providing information about your case to the prosecution, or to otherwise obstruct the administration of justice,” she said.

A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday night.

Chutkan has ordered Trump’s attorneys to respond to the government’s motion for a protective order, stating their position on the matter by 5 p.m. on Monday. They are expected to respond, much like in the other cases in which Trump has been indicted.

In June, a federal judge issued a protective order barring Trump from disclosing on social media — or keeping — evidence the government is set to turn over to him in the classified documents case.

A protective order was also issued in Trump’s criminal hush-money case in New York in which prosecutors asked a judge to ensure that discovery materials in that case be used by defense only for trial, and referred to the former president’s “longstanding and perhaps singular history of attacking witnesses.”

The next hearing in the election case is scheduled for Aug. 28.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

Leave a Comment