Trump’s legal team on Monday filed a request to reject Special Counsel Jack Smith’s motion for limits on what the former President and his lawyers can say about witnesses and others in the federal 2020 election interference case.
In a 25-page filing U.S. District Court in DC, the Trump team asserted that such restrictions would violate his free speech rights as he runs for reelection as the clear front-runner for the Republican nomination in 2024.
In the filing, the Trump team claims “the Biden Administration” charged him in the case, and it seeks to “unconstitutionally silence him” because it is “keenly aware that it is losing that race for 2024.”
The assertion was made despite President Biden’s repeated refusals to comment publicly on ongoing Department of Justice investigations and deferring to the DOJ when asked about them.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Merrick Garland—who also appointed a special counsel in the prosecution of the President’s son, Hunter Biden, has also refused to answer direct questions about the Smith special counsel’s team investigations, saying, “Any questions about this matter will have to be answered by their filings in court.”
Last month, U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is presiding over the case, issued a protective order in the federal 2020 election interference case, restricting Trump from disclosing sensitive materials in the case, including grand jury or witness information.
The Department of Justice requested the protective order after Trump posted on his Truth Social platform, in all caps, “IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU!”
A Texas woman was arrested and charged with threatening to kill Chutkan just a few days after that posting by the former President, which he’d written one day after he was arraigned and pleaded not guilty to four criminal counts related to his actions surrounding the 2020 Presidential election, including conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding and conspiracy against rights.
In its own court filing earlier this month to limit public comments, Smith’s office asserted that Trump threatened to undermine public confidence in the case and influence potential jurors with “near daily” social media postings attacking prosecutors, Judge Chutkan and DC residents could potentially serve as jurors.
The latest court filing by the Trump team requests that the Biden Administration “stop abusing its power”—which the attorneys suggest is only happening because Biden is trying to distract from Trump’s “commanding lead in the polls” and part of a 2024 election interference scheme by the Biden White House.
“At bottom, 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 wrote.
When she issued the initial protective order last month, Chutkan warned Trump against further “inflammatory statements,” saying she would do what she needed to keep him from intimidating witnesses or tainting potential jurors—including taking the case to trial more quickly if the protective order is breached.
Judge Chutkan has set a March 4 start date for the trial.
Just this week, Trump wrote on Truth Social that outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley—a potential witness in the case—committed an act “so egregious” when he called officials in China to reassure them in the aftermath of the deadly January 6, 2021 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol, that “in times gone by, the punishment would have been DEATH.”
Milley’s phone call had been explicitly authorized by officials in the Trump Administration.