The legal team for special counsel Jack Smith argued in a court filing on Friday that recent comments made by Donald Trump about now-former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley and other public figures strengthened its case that the former president should refrain from speaking publicly about the federal election interference case.
They claimed in a 22-page petition that Trump had engaged in “a sustained campaign of prejudicial public statements regarding witnesses, the Court, the District, and prosecutors.”
The document highlighted Trump’s remarks from an interview with NBC News’ “Meet the Press” earlier this month, during which prosecutors claimed he made “prejudicial statements” about former U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who are both named as witnesses in the indictment against Trump.
The filing also made reference to a number of posts that were published on Trump’s Truth Social account this month, including one published last week that took aim at Milley by claiming that the general would have been put to death “in times gone by” for engaging in what Trump called “treasonous” behavior during the time after the 2020 election when Trump sought to retain power.
The filing on Friday follows a request by Smith’s office to U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is supervising the case, for a specifically worded order prohibiting Trump from making specific extrajudicial statements about the case earlier this month. This was done by Smith’s office to prevent any public comments that might have affected the trial’s outcome or jury selection. According to the prosecution, Trump’s recent remarks demonstrate the need for a specific gag order.
“A review of the defendant’s prejudicial statements in the weeks since the Government initially filed its motion on September 5 further demonstrates the need for the proposed order,” they argued.
Earlier on Friday, Chutkan scheduled a hearing for October 16 to discuss a potential gag order. In their filing, the special counsel’s office also cited social media posts that questioned Chutkan and the prosecution’s objectivity, as well as one that assailed former Vice President Mike Pence, another indicted witness.
In their brief, the special counsel’s office included social media posts that questioned Chutkan and the prosecution’s impartiality, as well as one that targeted former Vice President Mike Pence, another indicted witness. These tweets also called Chutkan’s credibility into doubt.
According to them, the defendant was “publicly disparaging witnesses and very deliberately commenting on the specific topics of their potential trial testimony.”Prospective jurors may form incorrect opinions about the credibility, veracity, or testimony of other witnesses based on the defendant’s statements. The Court may and should prevent the dissemination of such false information about the facts of this case.
The attorneys for the former president stated in a court filing this month that the prosecutors’ initial request for a restraining order was an attempt to “silence” him and violate his First Amendment rights. A representative for Trump did not immediately reply to a request for comment on Friday night. Trump has asserted that President Joe Biden’s desire to deny him his First Amendment rights “so I can’t speak” is the impetus behind efforts to limit what he can say publicly.