Smith, who was appointed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate the former chief executive, filed a motion to silence Trump on Sept. 15. His filing asked District Judge Tanya Chutkan to impose "a narrow, well-defined restriction" to prevent Trump from making statements "regarding the identity, testimony or credibility of prospective witnesses" and "about any party, witness, attorney, court personnel or potential jurors that are disparaging and inflammatory, or intimidating."
"The defendant knows that when he publicly attacks individuals and institutions, he inspires others to perpetrate threats and harassment against his targets," Smith stated. "The defendant continues these attacks on individuals precisely because he knows that in doing so, he is able to roil the public and marshal and prompt his supporters."
The special counsel also referenced instances where Trump blasted the federal judge as "a fraud dressed up as a judge" or "a radical Obama hack."
The motion continued: "The defendant's repeated, inflammatory public statements regarding the District of Columbia, the Court, prosecutors, and potential witnesses are substantially likely to materially prejudice the jury pool, create fear among potential jurors, and result in threats or harassment to individuals he singles out." (Related: The Trump indictment criminalizes political dissent.)
According to Smith, the gag order won't prevent Trump from publicly claiming his innocence of the charges against him. But if Chutkan grants the gag order, Trump's free speech rights guaranteed by the First Amendment will be infringed.
The Sept. 15 gag order request was linked to Trump's case centering on the fraudulent 2020 elections. However, this was not the first time the special counsel wanted to silence the former president running for a second White House term.
Back in August, the DOJ – through Smith – asked for a similar request against Trump over his case centering on classified documents seized from the former president's Mar-a-Lago home in Florida. According to the Justice Department, Trump shouldn't be permitted to speak about "sensitive and confidential information" as it would have a "harmful chilling effect on witnesses or adversely affect the fair administration of justice in this case."
The August motion stemmed from a Truth Social post from Trump that warned: "If you go after me, I'm coming for you." The DOJ's request filed hours after the post argued that the gag order "seeks to prevent … improper dissemination or use of discovery materials, including to the public."
In response to the Sept. 15 motion, Trump denounced the "lying and deranged" Smith for suppressing his free speech rights in a post on Truth Social.
"I'm campaigning for president against an incompetent person who has weaponized the DOJ [and the] Federal Bureau of Investigation to go after his political opponent, and I am not allowed to comment? They leak, lie and sue – and they don't want me to speak? How else would I explain that Smith is deranged, or Crooked Biden is incompetent?"
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Watch this MSNBC report about Special Counsel Jack Smith's "narrow" gag order against Trump.
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