WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal prosecutors on Friday pushed for a limited gag order against former President Donald Trump, citing an ongoing pattern of inflammatory and intimidating statements in the case accused him of plotting to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
Special Counsel Jack Smith’s team asked for it earlier this month an order The aim was to curb Trump’s attacks on prosecutors, potential witnesses and others involved in the case. Trump’s lawyers have objected to the request and U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan set court hearings for October 16 on Friday.
In a motion Friday evening, prosecutors reiterated the need for an order on Trump’s conduct.
They said his attacks had continued since the initial inquiry on Sept. 15, pointing to critical comments in a television interview about witnesses named in the indictment – including former Attorney General William Barr – as well as a social media post last week, in which he had indicated this Mark Milley, outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had committed treason and was to be executed.
Additionally, prosecutors noted an incident in South Carolina earlier this week in which he admired a Glock pistol during a visit to a gun shop. Although a Trump spokesperson initially claimed on social media that Trump had purchased the gun, he later deleted the post and clarified that Trump had only hinted that he wanted to buy one.
Despite that retraction, prosecutors wrote, Trump “reposted a video of the incident posted by one of his supporters” with a caption that suggested he had actually purchased the gun.
They said it was an example of Trump trying to profit from seditious actions but then shirking responsibility by having others around him “feign a retreat.”
“Either the defendant acquired a weapon in violation of the law and the conditions of his release, or he sought to profit from his supporters’ mistaken belief that he did so,” prosecutors said.
Trump’s lawyers earlier this week condemned the call for silence as an attempt to “unconstitutionally silence” his political speech. They called the request a “desperate attempt at censorship.”
Prosecutors rejected that characterization in their motion Friday evening.
“All it would limit is the defendant using his candidacy as a pretext for making adverse public statements about this case – and there is no legitimate need for the defendant to attack known witnesses over the content of their statements during the course of his campaign . “You have not provided pre-trial testimony or otherwise made materially prejudicial statements in violation of the proposed order,” they wrote.
The case is currently before the courts March 4, 2024in federal court in Washington.
Chutkan ruled against the Trump team on Wednesday when she rejected a defense request to withdraw from the case because of comments she made in other sentencing hearings that lawyers said called her impartiality into question. Chutkan said there was no reason for them to refuse.