Special counsel asks judge to limit Trump’s public statements in federal election subversion case – CNN


Justice Department prosecutors want a federal judge to reel in Donald Trump’s public statements in the federal 2020 election interference case, asking US District Judge Tanya Chutkan to place a court order limiting what he can say, according to a newly released filing.

The request, filed in recent days, represents the most direct response from prosecutors with special counsel Jack Smith’s office to the former president’s public statements to date. The Justice Department says the order is needed to protect the integrity of his trial in March. Trump has already been ordered not to intimidate potential witnesses or talk to them about the facts of the case.

In making their argument, prosecutors pointed to false public statements Trump previously made around the 2020 vote “to erode public faith in the administration of the election and intimidate individuals who refuted his lies.”

“The defendant is now attempting to do the same thing in this criminal case — to undermine confidence in the criminal justice system and prejudice the jury pool through disparaging and inflammatory attacks on the citizens of this District, the Court, prosecutors, and prospective witnesses,” prosecutors wrote in their filing.

Trump “has repeatedly and widely disseminated public statements attacking the citizens of the District of Columbia, the Court, prosecutors, and prospective witnesses,” prosecutors wrote.

Chutkan, an Obama appointee overseeing the criminal case, hasn’t yet made a decision on the request.

The prosecutors specifically asked for a court order limiting Trump’s ability to speak about “the identity, testimony, or credibility of prospective witnesses” and “statements about any party, witness, attorney, court personnel, or potential jurors that are disparaging and inflammatory, or intimidating.”

In a Friday opinion, Chutkan also indicated that prosecutors fear Trump will continue to lob personal attacks at possible witnesses.

“The history of harassment and threats towards the individuals whose information has been redacted demonstrates the real likelihood that they could suffer further intimidation upon disclosure of their identities,” the judge said.

The prosecutors said they do not want to block Trump from being able to quote or reference the court record or to proclaim his innocence.

They also are seeking a court order that would block Trump’s lawyers from polling potential jurors for the case without the court’s approval first.

“Consistent with its obligations to guard the integrity of these proceedings and prevent prejudice to the jury pool, while respecting the defendant’s First Amendment rights, the Court should enter the proposed orders imposing certain narrow restrictions on the parties’ public statements regarding this case and governing any jury studies the parties may undertake,” the prosecutors wrote to the judge.

The federal election interference investigation is one of four criminal cases against the former president. Trump is facing four charges in this case, including obstruction of an official proceeding and conspiracy to defraud the United States.

Earlier this week, Trump’s legal team asked Chutkan to recuse herself, citing comments that she made in cases involving January 6, 2021, rioters.

Chutkan has long been outspoken about the riot at the Capitol – calling the violence an assault on American democracy and warning of future danger from political violence. But Smith’s team argued in a filing Thursday night, arguing that Trump had taken the judge’s comments “out of context.”

This story has been updated with additional details.

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