Why Jack Smith had 'no choice' but to issue gag order against Trump: experts

Why Jack Smith had 'no choice' but to issue gag order against Trump: experts

Special Counsel Jack Smith on Friday asked U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan to narrowly limit the speech of defendant Donald Trump in the federal government’s case prosecuting the ex-president’s alleged attempts to overturn the 2020 election. One legal expert praising the DOJ’s move says it also puts it “one step closer to raising the concern that Trump’s intimidation of witnesses violates his conditions of release,” while another says at this point DOJ had “no choice.”

Smith’s request is focused on preventing the ex-president from targeting or attacking witnesses and protecting the jury pool.

“The Government seeks a narrow, well-defined restriction that is targeted at extrajudicial statements that present a serious and substantial danger of materially prejudicing this case,” attorneys for Smith’s wrote in their motion, as The Messengerreports.

Smith seeks to “bar ‘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.'”

CBS News’ Scott Macfarlane observes, “Jack Smith’s argument for a partial gag order emphasizes concern about Trump tainting the DC jury pool.. ‘defendant’s statements reasonably could have a material impact on the impartiality of the jury pool while simultaneously influencing witness testimony.'”

In his motion, Smith’s office writes, “The defendant has an established practice of issuing inflammatory public statements targeted at individuals or institutions that present an obstacle or challenge to him,” as NBC News reported. It also says that the ex-president “made clear his intent to issue public attacks related to this case when, the day after his arraignment, he posted a threatening message on Truth Social.”

“IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU!” read that message from August 4.

Attorney Luppe B. Lupin points out the Special Counsel’s office included “a lot” of Trump’s Truth Social posts as evidence in the motion. NCRM counted ten.

Smith’s lengthy motion, 19 pages, continues, reading: “In service of his criminal conspiracies, through false public statements, the defendant sought 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,” they add, “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.”

The word “harassment” appears seven times in the Special Counsel’s motion, including here: “The defendant knows that when he publicly attacks individuals and institutions, he inspires others to perpetrate threats and harassment against his targets.”

Legal experts have awaited a move from the DOJ to ask Judge Chutkan to impose some sort of restriction on Trump’s ability to harass or intimidate witnesses and prejudice his case in the court of public opinion.

The Messenger’s senior legal correspondent Adam Klasfeld notes, “This is a step prosecutors previously avoided in any of Trump’s criminal cases to date.”

National security attorney Brad Moss told The Messenger if any other defendant had done what Trump has done prosecutors would have requested a gag order long ago.

“If this were any — and I do mean any — other criminal defendant, this restriction would have been imposed weeks ago,” Moss said. “The Justice Department was far more accommodating than they otherwise would have been but had no choice but to take action to seek what is effectively a narrow and limited gag order against Mr. Trump.”

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