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Special counsel Jack Smith, who recently got shut down by a federal judge, is now pressuring the same jurist who is overseeing former President Donald Trump’s 2020 election interference case to provide protections to potential jurors.
In a motion filed before U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, an Obama appointee, Smith referenced the fact that she has already subjected the former president to a limited gag order after he posted something to his Truth Social platform.
“Given that the defendant—after apparently reviewing opposition research on court staff—chose to use social media to publicly attack a court staffer, there is cause for concern about what he may do with social media research on potential jurors in this case,” Smith wrote in the motion.
While arguing that protections for potential jurors are vital for several reasons, “chief among them is the defendant’s continued use of social media as a weapon of intimidation in court proceedings.”
Smith requested “reasonable and standard restrictions” to limit the ability of parties in the case “to conduct research on potential jurors during jury selection and trial and to use juror research.” He also urged strict enforcement of “standard practices in this District designed to shield juror identities from the public,” Axios noted.
Last week, Smith’s team again requested a limited gag order be placed on Trump.
The prosecutors told a judge that after their initial request for a gag order three weeks ago, the former president has continued to wage “a sustained campaign of prejudicial public statements” against witnesses, prosecutors, and others, The New York Times reported.
Chutkan had not ruled on the request from three weeks ago, but prosecutors added to that by mentioning statements the former president has made against people like former Vice President Mike Pence, a possible witness.
What prosecutors do not consider in their argument is that the former vice president is not only a potential witness but is also one of the former president’s opponents in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.
The Times reported:
The filing noted that Mr. Trump had lashed out at another witness in the case, “the former attorney general” — an apparent reference to William P. Barr — saying he had not done his job after the election “because he was afraid of being impeached.”
Moreover, prosecutors cited a menacing message that Mr. Trump posted on his social media site last week about Gen. Mark A. Milley, the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs. After General Milley gave several interviews that were critical of Mr. Trump, the former president suggested that he had committed treason and that in the past he might have faced execution.
“No other criminal defendant would be permitted to issue public statements insinuating that a known witness in his case should be executed,” prosecutor Molly Gaston said. “This defendant should not be, either.”
The prosecutors even talked about a campaign stop that the former president made at a gun store where he said he wanted to purchase a firearm, but his aides said that he did not make the purchase.
Smith’s prosecutors also claimed that the former president had “either purchased a gun in violation of the law and his conditions of release or seeks to benefit from his supporters’ mistaken belief that he did so.”
“He demands special treatment, asserting that because he is a political candidate, he should have free rein to publicly intimidate witnesses and malign the court, citizens of this district, and prosecutors,” the prosecutor said. “But in this case, Donald J. Trump is a criminal defendant like any other.”
Defense attorneys for the former president issued a scathing response to the initial gag order request on Tuesday, accusing Smiths’ prosecutors of using “inflammatory rhetoric” that “violated longstanding rules of prosecutorial ethics.”
“Following these efforts to poison President Trump’s defense, the prosecution now asks the court to take the extraordinary step of stripping President Trump of his First Amendment freedoms during the most important months of his campaign against President Biden,” defense attorney Gregory M. Singer said. “The court should reject this transparent gamesmanship.”