06/24/2024

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Background: Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump speaks at the South Texas International Airport, Nov. 19, 2023, in Edinburg, Texas. AP Photo/Eric Gay, File. Inset: Special Counsel Jack Smith. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File.

‘They’re hoping they can silence me’: Trump’s latest Truth Social rant targets Jack Smith and accuses special counsel of ‘doing very bad things’ in response to gag order request

Background: Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump speaks at the South Texas International Airport, Nov. 19, 2023, in Edinburg, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay); Inset: Special Counsel Jack Smith (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Donald Trump, in a Saturday evening post on Truth Social, took aim at special counsel Jack Smith over a recent government request to place a third gag order on the former president in his South Florida case.

According to the 45th president, Jack Smith asked U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon to issue the order so that the GOP standard-bearer “cannot talk about all of the Crimes he has committed, including the Illegal, Unconstitutional, and Unwarranted RAID of Mar-a-Lago.”

Trump’s latest missive toward the legal machinery is in response to a late Friday filing in the Mar-a-Lago documents case in which Smith requested a limited gag order on the defendant which would bar him from making statements “that pose a significant, imminent, and foreseeable danger to law enforcement agents.”

Such an order would be appropriate, the prosecution argued, because FBI agents are likely to be called as witnesses in the eventual trial and keeping Trump from speaking ill of would-be witnesses is key to protecting “the integrity of this judicial proceeding.”

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    “The Government’s request is necessary because of several intentionally false and inflammatory statements recently made by Trump that distort the circumstances under which the Federal Bureau of Investigation planned and executed the search warrant at Mar-a-Lago,” the gag order motion reads. “Those statements create a grossly misleading impression about the intentions and conduct of federal law enforcement agents—falsely suggesting that they were complicit in a plot to assassinate him—and expose those agents, some of whom will be witnesses at trial, to the risk of threats, violence, and harassment.”

    In making the government’s case, the special counsel cites the limited gag order allowed on Trump’s speech in his Washington, D.C.-based prosecution over the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

    In a December 2023 opinion, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals partially upheld a gag order issued by U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan.

    Trump is also subject to an expansive gag order issued by New York County Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan in his hush-money prosecution over an October 2016 hush-money payment made by Michael Cohen, 57, to adult content creator Stormy Daniels, 45.

    More Law&Crime coverage: Defense filing in Mar-a-Lago case says the government cannot criminalize ‘literally-true’ statements even if they misled FBI agents

    Smith’s effort to double up on his success with gag orders, if successful, would exact a hat trick of speech concessions on the ex-president at the height of the 2020 campaign season. Trump has, for his part, consistently sought to make political hay out of the four different indictments he faces in four different jurisdictions.

    Friday night’s post on his homegrown social media website keeps up a theme of characterizing those criminal prosecutions as rogue actions of corrupt and partisan prosecutors. In Merchan’s case, in particular, the defendant has repeatedly attacked the court itself.

    “I guess they’re hoping they can silence me from telling the TRUTH like the Corrupt and Highly Conflicted Judge in New York City has done,” Trump’s post goes on. “Gag Orders have a very strong tendency to BACKFIRE, and if anybody should be GAGGED, it should be Deranged Jack, who was recently caught doing very bad things.”

    More Law&Crime coverage: ‘Dangerous campaign to smear law enforcement’: Jack Smith asks Mar-a-Lago judge to put gag order on Trump after posts claiming DOJ authorized ‘deadly’ force during search, defense complains about holiday weekend filing

    The Truth Social post also contains hints of sour grapes as it reprises a line of attack frequently used against President Joe Biden, the current iteration of the Department of Justice, and, by transitive property, Smith as well: Biden was similarly placed under the prosecutorial microscope of a special counsel investigation for retaining classified documents and was found to have likely violated the law – but, ultimately, no charges against the sitting president were filed.

    Trump has repeatedly compared and contrasted the two cases; the special counsel in Biden’s case, for his part, made pains to point out that the circumstances and context were not at all alike.

    “I should be able to talk about that, and everything else having to do with this Hoax,” Trump’s broadside gripe concludes, “from which Crooked Joe Biden was FULLY EXONERATED!”

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    The post ‘They’re hoping they can silence me’: Trump’s latest Truth Social rant targets Jack Smith and accuses special counsel of ‘doing very bad things’ in response to gag order request first appeared on Law & Crime.