Donald Trump’s legal team on Monday urged the judge overseeing the election conspiracy case against the former president to reject prosecutors’ proposed protective order concerning evidence in the case, describing it as overly broad.
Lawyers for the early 2024 Republican presidential primary front-runner said the judge should impose a more limited protective order that would prevent the defense team from publicly disclosing only materials deemed “sensitive,” such as grand jury witness testimony.
“In a trial about First Amendment rights, the government seeks to restrict First Amendment rights. Worse, it does so against its administration’s primary political opponent, during an election season in which the administration, prominent party members, and media allies have campaigned on the indictment and proliferated its false allegations,” Trump’s lawyers wrote.
The defense filing was in response to a request Friday from special counsel Jack Smith’s team for a protective order restricting the public disclosure of evidence in the case accusing Trump of conspiring to overturn his 2020 presidential election defeat.
Prosecutors’ proposed protective order seeks to prevent Trump and his lawyers from disclosing materials provided by the government to anyone other than people on his legal team, possible witnesses, the witnesses’ lawyers or others approved by the court. It would put stricter limits on “sensitive materials.”
Protective orders aren’t unusual in criminal cases, but prosecutors said it was especially important in this case because Trump routinely takes to social media to discuss the legal cases against him. They expressed concern that the Republican ex-president might improperly share sensitive information online that could have a “harmful chilling effect on witnesses.”
Prosecutors included a screenshot in their filing of a post from Trump’s Truth Social platform from on Friday in which Trump wrote, in all capital letters, “If you go after me, I’m coming after you!”
Trump has denied any wrongdoing in the case as well as another federal case brought by Smith that accuses Trump of illegally hoarding classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida.
A Trump spokesperson said the former president’s social media post “is the definition of political speech” and was made in response to “dishonest special interest groups and Super PACs.”
Alanna Durkin Richer, The Associated Press