Judge declines to bar Trump from talking about law enforcement in classified documents case

The federal judge overseeing Donald Trump’s classified documents case in Florida on Tuesday denied a request from special counsel Jack Smith’s team seeking to bar the former president from making comments about law enforcement agents who participated in the 2022 search of his Mar-a-Lago estate.

>> Read more trending news

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon said prosecutors failed to give defense attorneys enough time to discuss the proposal.

“Sufficient time needs to be afforded to permit reasonable evaluation of the requested relief by opposing counsel and to allow for adequate follow-up discussion as necessary about the specific factual and legal basis underlying the motion,” she said, according to court records.

Cannon denied the request without prejudice, meaning that prosecutors can later refile their request.

Prosecutors on Friday asked Cannon to “make clear that (Trump) 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.” They said comments recently made by Trump necessitated their request.

“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,” prosecutors said in a court filing.

They pointed to a post made last week on Truth Social in which Trump said the FBI was authorized “TO USE DEADLY (LETHAL FORCE)” during the search of Mar-a-Lago and a campaign fundraising email sent last week which claimed that “Biden was locked & loaded ready to take me out & put my family in danger.”

Prosecutors said the allegations appeared to stem from a standard form focused on the FBI’s use-of-force policy that the agency used in its planning for the Mar-a-Lago raid.

“The inclusion of that policy is routine practice to restrict the use of force, and it is attached to countless warrants across the country,” prosecutors said. “Moreover, as Trump is well aware, no force was used or threatened in executing the Mar-a-Lago search warrant: as planned, the FBI executed the search warrant in a professional and cooperative manner, at a time when Trump and his family were out of the state.”

In a response filed in court, Trump’s attorneys called prosecutors’ request improper, saying it asked Cannon “to impose an unconstitutional gag order on President Trump, as a condition of his pretrial release, based on vague and unsupported assertions about threats to law enforcement personnel whose names have been redacted from public filings and whose identities are already subject to a protective order.”

They added that prosecutors notified attorneys of their request to Cannon at 5:30 p.m. Friday ahead of the Memorial Day weekend, as Trump’s attorneys were preparing to give closing arguments in the former president’s criminal trial in New York.

“There was no basis for rushing to file the Motion on Friday night,” defense attorneys said Monday in a court filing. “This is bad-faith behavior, plain and simple.”

Earlier this month, Cannon postponed the start of Trump’s trial without setting a new date. In court records, she said several issues needed to be addressed before a date could be set.

The trial had been scheduled to begin on May 20.

Authorities said they found more than 100 classified records while searching Mar-a-Lago in 2022. Trump, who is the presumptive Republican nominee for president in the 2024 race, has denied wrongdoing and framed the investigation and others focused on his conduct as part of a politically motivated witch hunt.

Comments on this article