Trump argues protection order would violate his free speech

Prosecutors are keen to protect classified information they would share during the trial over Trump's efforts to reverse the 2020 election result

The former president's lawyers criticized efforts to "gag" their client (Photo: DW)
The former president's lawyers criticized efforts to "gag" their client (Photo: DW)


Former president Donald Trump's legal team criticized a request by prosecutors to issue a protection order during one of the trials he faces as a violation of his free speech.

Prosecutors urged the judge overseeing the case, where Trump is accused of illegitimately attempting to overturn his 2020 election loss, to issue the order. They argued that they would share confidential documents and evidence with the former president that must be protected.

Prosecutors expressed concern that Trump could use the information in the documents to intimidate individuals related to the trial, including witnesses.

A protective order would restrict the information Trump and his legal team are allowed to share with unauthorized personnel. It aims to protect the classified documents and information prosecutors must share with the defendant.

In other words, it could prohibit Trump from making such material public during the case.

What did Trump's legal team say?

On Monday, Trump's legal team submitted a 29-page filing to the US District Court in Washington as a response. They acknowledged the importance of shielding some of the documents from the public.

"However, the need to protect that information does not require a blanket gag order over all documents produced by the government," they wrote in the court papers filed on Monday. They suggested a more limited order that does not include all documents shared in the case.

The filing, nevertheless, did not directly address the assertion of witness intimidation.

"In a trial about First Amendment rights, the government seeks to restrict First Amendment rights," Trump's attorneys said, referring to the right of free speech guaranteed by the US Constitution.

What prompted the prosecutors' request?

The request came after Trump posted what was perceived to be a threatening statement on his social media platform Truth Social.

Shortly after facing a judge to plead not guilty over his indictment on charges that he engaged in a conspiracy to overturn the results of the 2020 election, Trump posted in all caps: "If you go after me, I'm coming after you!"

Prosecutors suspected the post was a threat to anyone involved in the trial against him.

The indictment is the third in four months for Trump, who is nonetheless currently considered the frontrunner in a campaign to become the 2024 Republican nominee for president.

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