Former President Donald Trump said that the prospective protective order sought by special counsel Jack Smith would violate his First Amendment rights. Smith’s efforts to limit Trump’s ability to speak about the pending court case were called “overbroad” by Trump’s legal team.
The special counsel sought a protective order from U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan following a social media post from the former president. Trump wrote on Truth Social, “IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU.” The government argued that this could be seen as attempting to influence potential participants in the case.
Smith wrote in his request for the order that he feared Trump would share grand jury transcripts with the public, which he said could be a “harmful chilling effect on witnesses.”
NEW: DOJ responds to Trump’s proposed protective order and basically admits DOJ version is a gag order.
Jack Smith wants to retain full control of trying this case in the public square with no defense from Team Trump: pic.twitter.com/LeDZOqnIOU
— Julie Kelly 🇺🇸 (@julie_kelly2) August 8, 2023
Trump’s attorneys wrote to the court that in a case tied to the First Amendment, Smith was attempting to restrict the former president’s right to free speech.
“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,” the letter read.
Trump’s legal team further said that Smith’s efforts would have the court trying the former president “assume the role of censor,” thus cutting off his ability to express political speech.
The attorneys requested that the court limit the protective order solely “to genuinely sensitive materials.” They called this a “less restrictive alternative that would satisfy any government interest in confidentiality while preserving the First Amendment rights of President Trump and the public.”
The legal team also stated that a video President Joe Biden shared in which he drank coffee and posted that a “cup of Joe never tasted better” was a “thinly veiled reference to his administration’s prosecution of President Trump just hours before arraignment.”
“Indeed, President Biden promised from the outset that his administration would ensure President Trump ‘does not become the next President again,’ adding an unprecedented political dimension to this prosecution,” the attorneys wrote.