Former President Donald Trump leaves after speaking during the 56th annual Silver Elephant Gala in Columbia, S.C., Aug. 5, 2023. AP

Prosecutors Ask Judge for Protective Order After Trump Social Media Post

Associated Press

Former President Donald Trump leaves after speaking during the 56th annual Silver Elephant Gala in Columbia, S.C., Aug. 5, 2023. AP

The Justice Department has asked a federal judge overseeing the criminal case against former President Donald Trump in Washington to step in after Trump released a post online that appeared to promise revenge on anyone who goes after him.

Prosecutors on Friday requested that U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan issue a protective order concerning evidence in the case, a day after Trump pleaded not guilty to charges of trying to overturn his 2020 election loss and block the peaceful transition of power. The order, different from a “gag order,” would limit what information Trump and his legal team could share publicly about the case brought by special counsel Jack Smith.

Chutkan on Saturday gave Trump’s legal team until 5 p.m. Monday to respond to the government’s request. Trump’s legal team, which has indicated he would look to slow the case down despite prosecutors’ pledge of a speedy trial, then filed a request to extend the response deadline to Thursday and to hold a hearing on the matter, saying it needed more time for discussion.

Chutkan swiftly denied that extension request Saturday evening, reaffirming that Trump must abide by Monday’s deadline.

Protective orders are common in criminal cases, but prosecutors said it’s “particularly important in this case” because Trump has posted on social media about “witnesses, judges, attorneys and others associated with legal matters pending against him.”

Prosecutors pointed specifically to a post on Trump’s Truth Social platform from earlier Friday in which Trump wrote, in all capital letters, “If you go after me, I’m coming after you!”

Prosecutors said they are ready to hand over a “substantial” amount of evidence — “much of which includes sensitive and confidential information” — to Trump’s legal team.

They told the judge that if Trump were to begin posting about grand jury transcripts or other evidence provided by the Justice Department, it could have a “harmful chilling effect on witnesses or adversely affect the fair administration of justice in this case.”

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