In a court filing, prosecutors flagged a social media post made by Donald Trump
Prosecutors handling Donald Trump’s upcoming trial have requested restrictions on the ex-president’s public statements regarding the case due to a threatening message he shared online. Concerned that Mr. Trump might disclose confidential evidence, the prosecutors cited a recent post targeting individuals involved in the case.
However, Trump’s team argued that the post was directed at political adversaries. The message, “IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU!” was posted on the Truth social network shortly after he pleaded not guilty to four charges related to alleged election fraud, including conspiracy to defraud the US and tampering with a witness.
The prosecutors, led by Special Counsel Jack Smith, expressed worries that Trump’s history of attacking judges, attorneys, and witnesses may have a negative impact on the fair administration of justice in this case, possibly chilling witnesses or compromising the proceedings.
The Republican has already hit out against the special counsel, telling a crowd of supporters in Alabama on Friday that Mr. Smith was a “deranged human being” and “a bad guy”.
The filing added that Friday’s post “specifically or by implication” referred to those involved in the criminal case against him.
It added the order they are seeking – known as a protective order – would not be “overly restrictive”, saying that it did not prevent Mr. Trump and his team from discussing the case in the media and would allow him to access discovery materials for use in his defense.
“All the proposed order seeks to prevent is the improper dissemination or use of discovery materials, including to the public,” the filing said.
Judge Tanya Chutkan gave Mr. Trump’s legal team until 17:00 local time on Monday to respond to the submission. Mr. Trump’s lawyers asked for three more days, but the judge denied their request.
In a statement shortly after the filing, a spokesperson for Mr. Trump defended the social media post and insisted that he had been targeting political opponents.
“The Truth post cited is the definition of political speech,” the statement said, adding that it was in response to “dishonest special interest groups” and political action committees attacking him.
Judge Chutkan, a noted hardliner on cases against those accused of participation in the Capitol riots, is expected to call in attorneys from both sides on 28 August to discuss setting a trial date.
Prosecutors have already said that the case would benefit from a speedy trial.
But Mr. Trump’s defense attorney John Lauro has said his team will need more time to prepare. He said the prosecution’s timeline was “somewhat absurd” given that the investigation itself had taken three years.
Mr Trump now faces five upcoming trials – three criminal trials which include the classified documents case, the hush money case, and these election charges; and two civil trials over business practices and alleged defamation of a woman who accused him of rape.