Federal Judge Rejects Partial Gag Order Against Trump In Classified Documents Case; Prosecutors Warned Of His Effort To “Smear” Law Enforcement

UPDATE: The federal judge overseeing Donald Trump’s classified documents criminal case denied prosecutors’ efforts to limit the former president’s attacks on the FBI.

Trump had falsely suggested that the federal agents who searched his Mar-A-Lago estate in 2022 were part of a plot to assassinate him.

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U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon wrote that Special Counsel Jack Smith’s team had failed to properly confer with Trump’s legal team before filing a motion to restrict Trump’s comments. She wrote that she found the Special Counsel’s “pro forma ‘conferral’ to be wholly lacking in substance and professional courtesy. It should go without saying that meaningful conferral is not a perfunctory exercise.”

“Sufficient time needs to be afforded to permit reasonable evaluation of the requested relief by opposing counsel and to allow for adequate follow-up discussion as necessary about the specific factual and legal basis underlying the motion,” she wrote.

Trump’s legal team had argued that the prosecutors’ motion “fails to identify any direct evidence of the purported safety risks they claim exist.”

The special counsel “did not even dare seek emergency relief in the filing, as no such relief is warranted. Thus, there was no basis for rushing to file the Motion on Friday night. This is bad-faith behavior, plain and simple.”

In their request for the partial gag order, Smith’s team cited what happened after the FBI’s search of Mar-A-Lago in August, 2022. They noted that “an armed attack on an FBI office in Cincinnati, Ohio, was carried out by one of his supporters in the wake of Trump’s Truth Social statements inflaming his supporters regarding the search of Mar-a-Lago.”

Cannon rejected the motion without prejudice, meaning that Smith’s team can pursue it again. The judge also rejected Trump attorneys’ motion for sanctioning prosecutors, but warned that she would impose such penalties if they fail to properly confer in the future.

PREVIOUSLY: Special Counsel Jack Smith is asking a federal judge to issue a partial gag order restricting Donald Trump from falsely claiming that FBI agents who searched his Mar-A-Lago estate in 2022 were part of a plot to assassinate him.

Smith’s team asked Judge Aileen Cannon to “take steps immediately to halt this dangerous campaign to smear law enforcement.”

Trump has posted repeatedly on social media that the FBI was “locked & loaded ready to take me out & put my family in danger.”

His comments were based on a filing in his criminal case on charges that he withheld government-owned classified documents and obstructed efforts to retrieve them. The filing was a standard form that outlined the Justice Department’s use-of-force policy in the search. It was amplified by right-wing media, including Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo, but refuted by other outlets, including Fox News White House correspondent Jacqui Heinrich, who reported that the standard policy also was used in the search of President Joe Biden’s home, along with other searches.

In their filing, Smith’s team wrote that “the FBI used a form that contains standard and unobjectionable language setting out the Department of Justice’s use-of-force policy, which prohibits the use of deadly force except ‘when the officer has a reasonable belief that the subject of such force poses an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the officer or to another person.’ … The inclusion of that policy is routine practice to restrict the use of force, and it is attached to countless warrants across the country. Moreover, as Trump is well aware, no force was used or threatened in executing the Mar-a-Lago search warrant: as planned, the FBI executed the search warrant in a professional and cooperative manner, at a time when Trump and his family were out of the state.”

Trump, though, has written such things that the FBI “was authorized to shoot me,” while also claiming that it was Biden who authorized the use of deadly force against him.

Smith’s team argued that “these deceptive and inflammatory claims expose the law enforcement professionals who are involved in this case to unjustified and unacceptable risks: they invite the sort of threats and harassment that have occurred when other participants in legal proceedings against Trump have been targeted by his invective. Those risks have the potential to undermine the integrity of the proceedings as well as jeopardize the safety of law enforcement.”

The prosecutors want Cannon to “impose a condition that Trump may not make public statements that pose a significant, imminent, and foreseeable danger to the law enforcement agents participating in the investigation and prosecution of this case.”

Trump also is under a partial gag order in his hush money trial in New York, and in the federal January 6th case in Washington. The orders restrict him from attacking certain individuals involved in the proceedings, as well as their family members.

Trump’s team has yet to file a response. In the Smith team filing, they said that the defense objects to the motion “and the timing of the conferral on a holiday weekend; it is their position that the Government has not provided an opportunity for meaningful conferral. They do not believe that there is any imminent danger, and asked to meet and confer next Monday.” Smith’s team noted that Trump has continued to post the claims.

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