Special Counsel Jack Smith is taking aim at former President Donald Trump’s attacks on himself, witnesses and the judge in his pending criminal trial over charges that he conspired to remain in power after losing the 2020 presidential election.
Citing a series of social media posts and interview comments, Smith called for Judge Tanya Chutkan to issue a “narrow, well-defined restriction” on what Trump says about the case. They would include “statements regarding 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.” A motion was filed in federal court on Friday.
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Smith wrote that Trump’s “statements reasonably could have a material impact on the impartiality of the jury pool while simultaneously influencing witness testimony. The defendant’s repeated posts that he cannot receive a fair trial from this court or from a jury of his peers in this District are substantially likely to undermine confidence in the justice system, affect the jury pool, or otherwise prejudice the due administration of justice. His misleading statements regarding the Special Counsel’s Office and its investigation are designed to do the same. And his targeting of specific witnesses seeks to either bolster or impeach witnesses not before this court but instead in the court of public opinion before trial begins.”
Trump has repeatedly called Smith “deranged,” while he has claimed, in interviews with Megyn Kelly and new Meet the Press moderator Kristen Welker that the indictments are politically orchestrated by President Joe Biden. But Trump has not presented any evidence that Biden ordered the indictments.
Smith singled out a number of Trump’s social media posts, including one in which he “repeatedly makes the knowingly false claim that Special Counsel’s Office prosecutors went to the White House in advance of the defendant’s June 2023 indictment [in Florida] for improper reasons.” In fact, Trump was given discovery materials in June 21 showing that Smith “conducted a routine investigative interview of a
career military official at that official’s duty station—the White House.”
“The defendant’s objective in spreading a knowing lie to the contrary—including by re-posting others’ Truth Social posts naming the prosecutor and repeating the lie—is an attempt to prejudice the public and the venire in advance of trial,” Smith wrote in the motion.
Also cited were Trump’s attacks on Chutkan and former Vice President Mike Pence. Smith also argued that “if unfettered, the way that the defendant is known to use public statements to intimidate individuals could affect potential jurors.” Smith cited jurors’ fears in one of the cases involving a January 6th defendant, as well as racist death threats against Chutkan. “In addition, the Special Counsel has been subject to multiple threats, and the specific Special Counsel’s Office prosecutor that the defendant has targeted through recent, inflammatory public posts has been subject to intimidating communications,” Smith wrote.
Trump’s team already is asking that Chutkan recuse herself from the case, something that Smith’s team opposes.
According to the indictment, Trump conspired to block the certification of the electoral vote count for Joe Biden on January 6, 2021. At a rally at the Ellipse on that date, Trump called for his supporters to trek to the Capitol, where the House and Senate were about to start the count, with Vice President Mike Pence presiding. The process was suspended when protesters stormed the Capitol, with lawmakers fleeing for their safety.
Trump plead not guilty in the case, one of four federal and state criminal proceedings he now faces. Chutkan has set March 4 for the start of the trial. When Trump was arraigned last month, Chutkan warned him and attorneys involved in the case to watch their rhetoric.
Trump’s interview with Welker is set to air on Sunday. His interview with Kelly for her podcast aired on Thursday. She pressed him on the Florida case, over his retention of classified documents, but did not challenge his contention that the indictments were politically motivated.
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