Trump lawyers seek to narrow proposed limit on what he can say publicly in election case

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Donald Trump’s lawyers on Monday asked a judge to narrow the protective order proposed by federal prosecutors last week aimed at prohibiting the former president from publicly disclosing certain evidence gathered during the special counsel’s 2020 election probe.

In a 29-page filing, Trump’s lawyers argued that the government’s proposal was “overbroad” and instead asked Judge Tanya Chutkan to adopt a revised order “to shield only genuinely sensitive materials from public view.”

“The government requests the Court assume the role of censor and impose content-based regulations on President Trump’s political speech that would forbid him from publicly discussing or disclosing all non-public documents produced by the government, including both purportedly sensitive material and non sensitive potentially exculpatory documents,” they wrote.

The filing includes proposed changes that would narrow the scope of the limitations sought by the government. One of the revisions would allow Trump to publicly disclose recordings and transcripts of witness testimony that prosecutors obtained in the course of their investigation and are expected to turn over to the defense.

The government, in Friday’s filing, had proposed barring Trump from disclosing sensitive materials, defined in part as “recordings, transcripts, interview reports, and related exhibits of witness interviews.” Under the Trump team’s proposal, sensitive materials would be defined as “information regarding the government’s confidential sources or which may jeopardize witness security.”

That phrasing could require the judge to determine what would and would not pose a threat to witnesses, a process that could eat up hours of court time.

A spokesperson for the special counsel’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Former President Donald Trump at the 56th Annual Silver Elephant Dinner in Columbia, South Carolina on Aug. 5, 2023.
Former President Donald Trump at the 56th Annual Silver Elephant Dinner in Columbia, S.C. on Aug. 5, 2023.Melissa Sue Gerrits / Getty Images

In their proposal Friday, prosecutors cited Trump’s social media posts in asking the judge to prohibit the former president and his defense team from publicly disclosing certain evidence in the case. One of those posts was from Trump’s Truth Social page Friday afternoon that read: “IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU!”

Trump’s disclosure of details or grand jury transcripts “could have a harmful chilling effect on witnesses or adversely affect the fair administration of justice in this case,” prosecutors argued in their motion.

Chutkan had ordered Trump’s attorneys to respond to the government’s proposal by 5 p.m. ET on Monday.

Trump was arraigned last week on charges that included conspiracy to defraud the United States. He pleaded not guilty and has publicly condemned the allegations against him.

Earlier on Monday, in a post on his social media platform Truth Social, Trump suggested the special counsel was trampling his First Amendment rights and described Chutkan as Smith’s “number one draft pick,” demanding her recusal.

The indictment noted the former president’s First Amendment right to “speak publicly” and make false claims about the election and challenge the results through “lawful and appropriate means” such as recounts or lawsuits. But it sought to differentiate such speech from “unlawful means of discounting legitimate votes and subverting the election results.”

Chutkan, who once rejected Trump’s request to stop the House Jan. 6 committee from obtaining White House documents from his administration related to the Capitol riot, was randomly assigned to oversee proceedings in the 2020 election case.

She is expected to schedule a trial date in the case at a hearing set for Aug. 28.

Read More: Trump lawyers seek to narrow proposed limit on what he can say publicly in election case

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