Judge Gives Trump Team Monday Evening Deadline to Respond to Protective Order Request

August 7, 2023

Federal Judge Tanya Chutkan has given former President Trump’s legal team until 5pm ET Monday to respond to a Department of Justice request for a protective order. 

The DOJ requested the order after Trump posted on his Truth Social platform, in all caps, “IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU!”

That’s despite during his arraignment on four criminal counts surrounding attempts to overturn the 2020 Presidential election and the related the January 6, 2021 insurrection on the U.S Capitol, Trump swore before Magistrate Judge Moxila A. Upadhyaya that he would not intimidate witnesses or communicate with them without legal counsel present.

A spokesperson for Trump referred to the social media post as “the definition of political speech,” asserting it was aimed at “dishonest special interest groups and Super PACs,” though there’s no evidence of the post responding to anything specific.

Judge Chutkan of the U.S. District Court in DC, who’s presiding over the former President’s trial, on Saturday denied a request from Trump attorneys to extend the response deadline until Thursday. Chutkan reaffirmed that Trump must abide by the 5pm Monday deadline. 

Protective orders are common in criminal cases. However, federal prosecutors in the office of Special Counsel Jack Smith said the order is “particularly important in this case” because Trump has posted on social media about “witnesses, judges, attorneys, and others associated with legal matters pending against him.”

The prosecution further said it’s ready to hand over a “substantial” amount of evidence, including “sensitive and confidential information” to Trump’s defense team, asserting that if Trump were to begin posting about grand jury transcripts or other evidence, it could have a “harmful chilling effect on witnesses or adversely affect the fair administration of justice in this case.”

The DOJ’s protective order seeks to prevent Trump and his attorneys from divulging materials provided by the government to anyone other than people on his legal team, possible witnesses or their attorneys, or anyone approved by the court. The order would also place stricter limits on “sensitive materials,” including grand jury witness testimony and materials obtained through sealed search warrants.

Trump, meanwhile, has said he will “immediately ask for a recusal” from Judge Chutkan from the case, insisting he cannot get a fair trial in a case over which she presides. Chutkan, like many other judges at the U.S. District Court in DC, has presided over numerous other January 6 cases.

Confirmed in 2014 by the U.S. Senate in an overwhelming 95-0 vote, last year Chutkan forcefully rejected attempts by Trump to prevent the House Select January 6 Committee from access to more than 700 pages of White House records. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld her ruling on appeal, with only Justice Clarence Thomas siding with Trump.

Legal experts have predicted that the Supreme Court is unlikely to intercede in the criminal case against Trump or any of the other cases in which he’s been criminally indicted. 

Altogether Trump has so far pleaded not guilty to 78 criminal counts in three separate cases.

PHOTO: Trump arrives in DC for Arraignment, August 3

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