Former President Donald Trump’s attorneys argued in a court filing Monday that a gag order requested by special counsel Jack Smith in the federal 2020 election interference case is unconstitutional, overly broad and an effort to censor the former president during the 2024 presidential race.
“The Proposed Gag Order is nothing more than an obvious attempt by the Biden Administration to unlawfully silence its most prominent political opponent,” Trump’s attorneys said in the response.
Trump is asking US District Judge Tanya Chutkan to deny the prosecutor’s request for a gag order entirely, requesting a hearing on the matter. Chutkan, an Obama appointee overseeing the criminal case in Washington, DC, hasn’t yet made a decision on the request for a gag order.
Justice Department prosecutors previously said a limited gag order on the former president is needed to protect the integrity of the trial in March. The prosecutor’s argument for a gag order pointed to false public statements Trump previously made around the 2020 election “to erode public faith in the administration of the election and intimidate individuals who refuted his lies.”
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.
Prosecutors previously asked Chutkan to reel in Trump’s public statements and posts on social media and specifically asked the judge to limit 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.”
Trump has already been ordered not to intimidate potential witnesses or talk to them about the facts of the case.
“The prosecution may not like President’s Trump’s entirely valid criticisms, but neither it nor this Court are the filter for what the public may hear,” Trump’s attorneys wrote in the Monday night filing. “Let’s be clear: the prosecution hopes to create a contempt trap for President Trump and his attorneys.”
Trump’s attorneys wrote in the filing that he has not intimidated anyone and that “it is absurd to suggest the prosecution and the Court are ‘intimidated’ by critical social media posts.”
Trump has used social media to take aim at special counsel Jack Smith and Chuktan. Prosecutors also cited his criticism of former Vice President Mike Pence and former Attorney General Bill Barr – both of whom could be called as witnesses in the trial next year.
Trump’s legal team also responded to prosecutors request for a court order that would block them from polling potential jurors for the case without the court’s approval first. Defense attorneys can poll residents who could make up the jury pool in their case with general questions around the issues of the case. Those findings can be used to argue for a change of venue.