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5 Aug, 2023 05:00

Prosecutors want Trump silenced over ‘implied’ threat

The move comes after the former president issued an ambiguous warning on social media
Prosecutors want Trump silenced over ‘implied’ threat

The US Department of Justice has urged a federal judge to issue a protective order against former President Donald Trump, seeking to prevent him from disclosing “sensitive” details about his criminal case linked to the 2020 presidential election.

Prosecutors requested the order from US District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan on Friday, claiming it is “particularly important” given that Trump has previously made social media posts about “witnesses, judges, attorneys, and others associated with legal matters pending against him.”

“If the defendant were to begin issuing public posts using details – or, for example, grand jury transcripts – obtained in discovery here, it could have a harmful chilling effect on witnesses or adversely affect the fair administration of justice in this case,” the DOJ said in a court filing.

Just hours before prosecutors’ request to Judge Chutkan, Trump left an all-caps post on his Truth Social page warning “If you go after me, I’m coming after you!” Though the former president did not clarify what he meant, the Justice Department argued that he was referring to his election interference case “either specifically or by implication.”

The proposed protective order would bar Trump and his defense lawyers from divulging discovery material obtained from the government to anyone who is not on his legal team, as well as impose tighter controls on “sensitive materials,” including information gleaned from sealed search warrants and grand jury testimony.

Trump pleaded not guilty on Thursday to the latest criminal charges against him, which feature four felony counts related to an alleged conspiracy to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential race. The ex-president has slammed the case as politically motivated, claiming prosecutors were targeting him because Biden would be unable to beat him in a 2024 election rematch.

Trump faces two other criminal cases launched earlier this year, including dozens of felony charges related to his alleged mishandling of classified documents after leaving office, as well as another linked to alleged hush-money payments made to porn actress Stormy Daniels during his 2016 campaign. 

Special counsel Jack Smith also hit Trump with three additional charges late last month after accusing him of plotting to delete incriminating security camera footage before federal agents raided his Florida estate as part of the classified documents probe. He pleaded not guilty in June to the 37 previously filed charges in that case, and has said he will also plead not guilty to the latest charges.