Special counsel asks judge to impose gag order on Trump, citing new FBI threat 

Former President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, next to his lawyer Todd Blanche (R), speaks to the press during his criminal trial at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City on May 21, 2024. Michael M. Santiago/Pool/AFP 
Former President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, next to his lawyer Todd Blanche (R), speaks to the press during his criminal trial at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City on May 21, 2024. Michael M. Santiago/Pool/AFP 

By Jack Phillips 
Contributing Writer 

Special counsel Jack Smith’s office again requested that a federal judge impose a gag order on former President Donald Trump in his classified records case, saying that new evidence of an alleged threat targeting an FBI agent is a good enough reason to support their arguments. 

In a court filing submitted on Friday, Smith urged U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon to rule favorably on his earlier gag order request, saying that a new piece of evidence should support his argument. He claimed that an alleged threat by a Trump supporter toward an FBI agent shows that Trump’s remarks about law enforcement officials pose an imminent threat. 

“Statements that present a significant, imminent and foreseeable danger to the law enforcement agents working on this case pose a significant and imminent threat to the integrity of these criminal proceedings,” said the court motion, which was filed on the same day that Cannon held a hearing on the legitimacy of Smith’s appointment as special counsel in the classified records case. 

The motion makes reference to an incident that occurred on June 11 in which a Texas man is accused of threatening an FBI agent who had worked on the Hunter Biden investigation. The man was identified by the special counsel’s office as a Trump supporter. 

“Just last week, a supporter of Trump called an FBI agent associated with the Hunter Biden case and claimed that, if Trump wins reelection, FBI agents will be thrown in jail; and if he does not win, the agents will be ‘[hunted] down’ and ‘[slaughtered]’ in their own homes, after which ‘[we’re going] to slaughter your whole [expletive] family,’” the court papers said. 

“No court would tolerate another defendant deliberately creating such immediate risks to the safety of law enforcement, and this court should not wait for a tragic event before taking action in this case,” Smith’s team added. 

A previous request for a gag order by the special counsel’s office was tossed by Cannon several weeks ago, with the judge saying that he did not follow procedure or rules that she laid out about filing such motions. Another gag order request was submitted by Smith’s team just days later, and the judge has not yet ruled on it. 

In opposition to the gag order, the former president’s lawyers have argued that it would violate the 45th president’s First Amendment rights, notably while he is the leading Republican candidate for president ahead of the November 2024 election. They also argued that the request is an attempt to restrict what he can say during his first presidential debate against President Joe Biden on Thursday. 

Smith’s gag order request made note of comments from the former president and his campaign regarding court documents that were released weeks ago, showing a boilerplate FBI use-of-force document that allowed agents to carry weapons during the execution of a court-authorized search warrant. 

Other Gag Order Remains In Effect 

Meanwhile, last week, the New York Court of Appeals rejected a Trump appeal to rescind a gag order that was handed down by New York Justice Juan Merchan, who is overseeing a separate criminal case against the former president in Manhattan. Several months ago, the judge implemented the order, prohibiting Trump from commenting on individuals connected to the trial such as witnesses, jurors, court staff, prosecutors, and more, though he is free to speak about the judge and District Attorney Alvin Bragg. 

The New York high court wrote in a brief ruling that it dismissed the appeal because “no substantial constitutional question is directly involved.” It’s unclear if the former president’s team will appeal to a higher court. 

“This gag order restricts President Trump’s core political speech on matters of central importance at the height of his presidential campaign, where he is the leading candidate, and thus it violates the fundamental right of every American voter to hear from the leading candidate for president on matters of enormous public importance,” his attorneys wrote to the New York court. 

On Friday, Bragg’s office again requested that the gag order remain intact until the former president’s sentencing date, which is July 11. Merchan has made no public indication on whether he will keep the order intact until then. 

“Defendant’s demand that this court precipitously end these protections, even before the sentencing hearing on July 11, is overstated and largely unfounded,” prosecutors wrote in the filing, adding that the district attorney’s office believes that there have been attempts made by Trump supporters to “identify jurors and threaten violence against them.” 

Related To This Story

Latest NEWS