According to Mediaite, in recent legal developments, Special Counsel Jack Smith has made a formal request to U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, urging her to re-impose a strict federal gag order on former President Donald Trump.
The plea comes in light of Trump’s alleged attempts to influence the jury pool and disparage potential witnesses in the ongoing January 6 case.
The motion, filed on Wednesday, emphasized that any communication from Trump regarding the case or its witnesses would be in direct violation of the court’s restrictions, potentially leading to stricter sanctions, including the possibility of jail time.
The initial gag order issued by Judge Chutkan was temporarily suspended, allowing for further arguments to be considered. However, Smith’s office contends that reinstating the gag order is essential, particularly in response to a recent social media post by Trump concerning his former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, who is expected to be a key witness in the impending trial.
Prosecutors underscored the potential influence of Trump’s documented pattern of targeting individuals involved in the case, asserting that the absence of a restraining order poses an immediate risk to the integrity of witness testimony.
In the filing, Smith’s team requested the modification of Trump’s conditions of release, proposing that compliance with the gag order be a requisite for his release. They also suggested that any indirect messaging to witnesses, whether through public statements on social media or during public speeches, should be considered a breach of the order.
This adjustment, according to the prosecutors, would provide the court with additional tools for ensuring compliance, including measures outlined in 18 U.S.C. § 3148, such as the revocation of release, orders of detention, and prosecution for contempt of court.
The evolving dynamics of the legal proceedings highlight the intensifying scrutiny placed on Trump’s behavior and the consequential measures sought by the Special Counsel to safeguard the integrity of the trial and protect the sanctity of witness testimony.
U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE TANYA S. CHUTKAN, WHO IS OVERSEEING THE FEDERAL CASE AGAINST TRUMP IN D.C., ISSUED A LIMITED GAG ORDER AGAINST THE FORMER PRESIDENT LAST WEEK, BUT SHE TEMPORARILY SUSPENDED THE ORDER WHILE SHE CONSIDERED FURTHER ARGUMENT ON THE MATTER.
IN A LENGTHY FILING, SMITH’S OFFICE ARGUED SHE SHOULD REINSTATE THE GAG ORDER, PARTICULARLY IN LIGHT OF A SOCIAL MEDIA POST THIS WEEK IN WHICH TRUMP TALKED ABOUT HIS FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF MARK MEADOWS, WHO IS A LIKELY WITNESS IN THE PENDING TRIAL.
WITHOUT THE COURT’S ORDER, PROSECUTORS WROTE, THERE IS AN “IMMEDIATE RISK” THAT WITNESSES’ TESTIMONY “COULD BE INFLUENCED OR DETERRED BY THE DEFENDANT’S DOCUMENTED PATTERN OF TARGETING.”
NOTABLY, THE FILING URGED CHUTKAN TO “MODIFY THE DEFENDANT’S CONDITIONS OF RELEASE BY MAKING COMPLIANCE WITH THE ORDER A CONDITION OR BY CLARIFYING THAT THE EXISTING CONDITION BARRING COMMUNICATION WITH WITNESSES ABOUT THE FACTS OF THE CASE INCLUDES INDIRECT MESSAGES TO WITNESSES MADE PUBLICLY ON SOCIAL MEDIA OR IN SPEECHES.”
SUCH A MODIFICATION, THE PROSECUTORS ARGUE, WOULD GIVE CHUTKAN “COMPLIANCE MEASURES AVAILABLE UNDER 18 U.S.C. § 3148 IN ADDITION TO THOSE AVAILABLE AS A CONTEMPT PENALTY FOR VIOLATING THE ORDER.” THE COMPLIANCE MEASURES LISTED IN THAT PART OF THE LAW ARE “A REVOCATION OF RELEASE, AN ORDER OF DETENTION, AND A PROSECUTION FOR CONTEMPT OF COURT.”