According to The Washington Post on Saturday, August 5, 2023, the Justice Department requested a protective order from the federal judge overseeing Donald Trump’s election fraud case after the former president appeared to threaten retaliation against those who “go after” him.
Jack Smith argued in a filing on Friday night that Trump, 77, needs strict orders preventing him from publicly sharing key details about the four-count indictment brought against him on Tuesday.
The DOJ request came just hours after Trump wrote “IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU!” in a post on his Truth Social platform.
Prosecutors claimed Trump has a history of sharing privileged information with his followers, potentially chilling witness testimony or affecting the fair administration of justice in this case.
Smith cited Trump’s threatening Truth Social post in the filing. He said the DOJ was prepared to provide Trump’s team with substantial evidence, much of it sensitive and confidential. However, prosecutors are concerned Trump would leak details on social media.
The filing states three different proposed protective order drafts were exchanged between the DOJ and Trump’s attorneys. However, each draft was rejected by one side or the other.
If granted, the court-ordered protective order would allow Trump and his lawyers to discuss evidence internally and with witnesses. But they could not share it publicly. The order would also place tighter restrictions around sensitive materials like grand jury testimony and evidence from sealed search warrants.
Smith claimed such an order is necessary to prevent Trump from using case details to improperly sway public opinion on social media.
The request comes a day after Trump pleaded not guilty to charges alleging he tried to overturn the 2020 election. It follows his recent pattern of posting privileged information online about other indictments against him.
The DOJ aims to provide Trump’s team with evidence while avoiding further politicization of the case. But negotiations over the protective order have so far been unsuccessful.
The department now hopes the judge will mandate restrictions on Trump’s ability to publicly share confidential information.