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Donald Trump Calls Latest Jack Smith Motion ‘Extremely Problematic’

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Former President Donald Trump is seeking sanctions against Special Counsel Jack Smith’s office after federal prosecutors requested that a judge limit Trump’s public comments about his classified documents case in Florida.

In a filing on Monday, Trump’s attorneys argued that special counsel Jack Smith’s request amounted to “unconstitutional censorship” of the former president, Newsweek reported. Trump is accused of mishandling sensitive information and withholding hundreds of documents from federal authorities after leaving the White House in January 2021.

On May 24, special counsel Jack Smith’s office filed a motion requesting Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, to modify the former president’s bail conditions. The aim is to restrict Trump from making public comments that could endanger FBI agents. This request responds to Trump’s repeated claims that the agents who raided his Mar-a-Lago residence in August 2022 were prepared to kill him.

Smith’s office and the Justice Department have been forced to explain a “use of deadly force” authorization in the Trump raid. U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has said that the authorization is standard for every FBI operation, but critics pointed out that agents weren’t on some regular assignment, they were raiding the residence of a former president who is protected by Secret Service agents.

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Smith wrote last week that Trump’s comments on the matter have been “intentionally false and inflammatory statements.” But Trump’s defense team wrote in a filing on Monday that Smith’s request “unjustly targets President Trump’s campaign speech while he is the leading candidate for the presidency” and that the motion “treads new—extremely problematic—ground as a requested prior restraint that is different in kind from the unconstitutional gag orders that prosecutors have sought in New York and Washington, D.C.”

Newsweek added:

The classified documents case is one of four criminal indictments filed against Trump as he runs for reelection in November. He has had a gag order placed on his public speech related to his hush money case in Manhattan and his federal election subversion case in Washington.

Trump lawyers Todd Blanche and Christopher Kise also accused Smith of “bad-faith behavior” for filing his request to Cannon on the Friday night before Memorial Day weekend. The defense team is asking that federal prosecutors face contempt sanctions and that their motion is struck from the docket.

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“Pursuant to the Local Rules, the Special Counsel’s Office was required to meaningfully confer with us regarding those issues prior to filing the Motion,” Trump’s team wrote. “They did not. Instead, they persisted with a troubling pattern of pursuing media coverage rather than justice. Such an approach, by prosecutors sworn to uphold the law, should have no place in Your Honor’s courtroom. Such an approach requires consequences to ensure fundamental fairness. And that is what we are seeking here.”

The FBI has noted that the wording Trump took issue with was included in the operational order for the agents who searched President Joe Biden’s home for classified materials in 2023.

“The FBI followed standard protocol in this search as we do for all search warrants, which includes a standard policy statement limiting the use of deadly force,” the FBI said in a statement last week. “No one ordered additional steps to be taken and there was no departure from the norm in this matter.”

The special counsel filed a request Friday in which he asked Cannon to modify the former president’s “conditions of release,” telling him that “he may not make statements that pose a significant, imminent, and foreseeable danger to law enforcement agents participating in the investigation and prosecution of this case.”

“The law enforcement agents participating in this case conducted the search in an appropriate and professional manner, subject to the Department of Justice’s standard use-of-force policy. Trump’s repeated mischaracterization of these facts in widely distributed messages as an attempt to kill him, his family, and Secret Service agents has endangered law enforcement officers involved in the investigation and prosecution of this case and threatened the integrity of these proceedings,” he said in the filing.

“A restriction prohibiting future similar statements does not restrict legitimate speech. Trump’s conditions of release should, therefore, be modified to prohibit similar communications going forward,” he said.

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