Special counsel Smith seeks order from judge barring Trump from making statements that pose risk to law enforcement

Written by on May 25, 2024

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(WASHINGTON) — Special Counsel Jack Smith on Friday took the extraordinary step of seeking an order from the federal judge overseeing former President Donald Trump’s classified documents case to bar Trump from making statements that could pose a significant risk to law enforcement.

The request follows Trump’s efforts to seize on an item of recently released discovery in the case that he falsely claims shows President Biden planned to assassinate him during the search of his Mar-a-Lago club in August 2022.

“The Government moves to modify defendant Donald J. Trump’s conditions of release, to make clear 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 filings from Smith said.

“The government’s request is necessary because of several intentionally false and inflammatory statements recently made by Trump that distort the circumstances under which the Federal Bureau of Investigation planned and executed the search warrant at Mar-a-Lago. Those statements create a grossly misleading impression about the intentions and conduct of federal law enforcement agents—falsely suggesting that they were complicit in a plot to assassinate him—and expose those agents, some of whom will be witnesses at trial, to the risk of threats, violence, and harassment.”

In a fundraising email responding to right-wing media reports that offered a distorted reading of a newly unsealed court filing in Trump’s classified documents case, Trump falsely claimed Biden was “locked & loaded ready to take me out.”

In a separate post on his Truth Social platform Tuesday evening, Trump further said he was “shown Reports” that Biden’s DOJ “AUTHORIZED THE FBI TO USE DEADLY (LETHAL) FORCE” in their search of the property for classified documents.

“Trump… has grossly distorted… standard practices by mischaracterizing them as a plan to kill him, his family, and U.S. Secret Service agents,” the filing says. “Those deceptive and inflammatory assertions irresponsibly put a target on the backs of the FBI agents involved in this case, as Trump well knows.”

The special counsel walks through in comprehensive detail the steps they took to mitigate any risk of escalation in the search of Mar-a-Lago in Aug. 2022 – ensuring he and his family were out of state and even contacting his lawyer before they began the search of the property.

The filing says, “As Trump is well aware, the FBI took extraordinary care to execute the search warrant unobtrusively and without needless confrontation: they scheduled the search of Mar-a-Lago for a time when he and his family would be away; they planned to coordinate with Trump’s attorney, Secret Service agents, and Mar-a-Lago staff before and during the execution of the warrant; and they planned for contingencies—which, in fact, never came to pass—about with whom to communicate if Trump were to arrive on the scene.”

In bolstering the request, the filing points to the attack on an FBI field office in Cincinnati, Ohio, which they say was in the wake of statements Trump made “inflaming his supporters” following the August search.

They also point out that Trump’s lawyers misleadingly characterized the FBI’s “Use of Deadly Force” policy in their motion that has caused the current controversy, noting Trump’s attorneys – without explanation – omitted the word “only” before the words “when necessary” without any ellipses reflecting the omission.

For example, this is how Trump’s attorneys wrote about the policy in their filing: “Law enforcement officers of the Department of Justice may use deadly force when necessary” but how it actually reads on the policy statement is: “Law enforcement officers of the Department of Justice may use deadly force only when necessary.”

Trump pleaded not guilty last June to 37 criminal counts related to his handling of classified materials after leaving the White House, after prosecutors said he repeatedly refused to return hundreds of documents containing classified information ranging from U.S. nuclear secrets to the nation’s defense capabilities, and took steps to thwart the government’s efforts to get the documents back.

It’s unclear when or how U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon will respond to the request. She has set a series of hearings at the end of June to hear various efforts by Trump and his co-defendants to dismiss the case.


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