Trump lawyers demand Jack Smith be sanctioned for gag order request after ex-president’s outburst on FBI raid

Defense lawyers accused Smith’s office of violating procedure by filing a limited gag order request on Friday before a holiday weekend

Ariana Baio
Tuesday 28 May 2024 15:00 BST
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Bill Barr says ‘no excuse’ for Trump’s actions over classified documents

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Donald Trump’s lawyers demanded a judge repremand federal proseccutors for their “bad-faith behavior” after Special Counsel Jack Smith filed a gag order request before the holiday weekend after the former president ranted on Truth Social about the classified document case.

In a motion filed on Monday evening, Chris Kise – a lawyer for Mr Trump – asked Florida federal Judge Aileen Cannon to hold “all government attorneys who participated in the decision to file the motion” in civil contempt and impose sanctions after an evidentiary hearing.

It arrives days after Mr Smith’s office requested Judge Cannon modify the conditions of Mr Trump’s release by preventing him from making statements that could pose a threat to law enforcement agents who participated in the Mar-a-Lago raid. The former president criticized agents in a Truth Social post on Thursday after it was revealed that agents were authorized to use “deadly force” during the raid.

“WOW! I just came out of the Biden Witch Hunt Trial in Manhattan, the ‘Icebox,’ and was shown Reports that Crooked Joe Biden’s DOJ, in their illegal and UnConstitutional Raid of Mar-a-Lago, AUTHORIZED THE FBI TO USE DEADLY (LETHAL) FORCE,” Trump wrote. “NOW WE KNOW, FOR SURE, THAT JOE BIDEN IS A SERIOUS THREAT TO DEMOCRACY. HE IS MENTALLY UNFIT FOR OFFICE — 25TH AMENDMENT!”

That led Smith to file the request to gag the president from making public statements. In requesting their gag order, Mr Smith’s team argued that Mr Trump’s false claims that FBI agents “were complicit in a plot to assassinate him,” expose agents (some of whom could testify in the case) and their loved ones “to the risk of threats, violence, and harassment.”

But Mr Kise believes the filing was rushed and did not follow proper procedure.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media with attorney Todd Blanche (R) after his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments at Manhattan Criminal Court on May 20, 2024 in New York City.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media with attorney Todd Blanche (R) after his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments at Manhattan Criminal Court on May 20, 2024 in New York City. (Getty Images)

He accused Mr Smith’s office of refusing to hold discussions with defense attorneys to discuss the issues before filing the motion at 5:30pm on Friday before Memorial Day Weekend and while Mr Trump’s team was preparing for closing arguments in his New York criminal trial.

In addition to the sanctions request, Mr Kise also urged Judge Cannon to reject prosecutors’ attempt to impose a limited gag order on Mr Trump.

He called prosecutors’ proposal to modify Mr Trump’s terms of release an  “extraordinary, unprecedented, and unconstitutional censorship application” saying it infringes on Mr Trump’s First Amendment right to free speech.

The fight over the gag order comes as the trial in the classified document case, which was set for a May trial, was delayed indefinitely. It also mirrors other arguments Mr Trump has made regarding previous gag orders in other cases.

Special Counsel Jack Smith is prosecuting Donald Trump on charges related to his alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election
Special Counsel Jack Smith is prosecuting Donald Trump on charges related to his alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election (Getty Images)

Mr Trump’s team claimed the gag order in his federal election interference trial interfered with his political speech. During the civil fraud trial, Mr Trump’s attorneys argued the gag order took away his First Amendment rights.

Most recently, Mr Trump’s attorneys fought the gag order in his New York criminal trial after the judge issued one to keep the integrity of the case.

Despite the defense team’s efforts to fight the gag orders, judges and appeals courts have found that Mr Trump’s admonishing of court staff, judges, potential witnesses or jurors pose real and credible threats to individuals.

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