Special counsel Jack Smith’s team has filed a court document arguing that recent comments made by Donald Trump about former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley and other public officials support their case for restricting the former president’s remarks about the federal election interference case. In a 22-page filing, Smith’s team claimed that Trump has engaged in a sustained campaign of prejudicial public statements regarding witnesses, the court, the district, and prosecutors. They specifically pointed to Trump’s comments during an interview with NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” where he made prejudicial statements about Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and former U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr. Trump’s social media posts on his Truth Social account, including a post targeting Milley, were also cited as evidence.
Smith’s office previously requested a narrowly tailored order that would prevent Trump from making extrajudicial statements about the case. This filing further emphasizes the need for a targeted gag order, as Trump’s recent remarks only reinforced the necessity to prevent public remarks that could influence the trial’s outcome or prejudice jury selection. The special counsel’s office argued that Trump’s statements could lead potential jurors to form improper views about witnesses’ reputations and veracity. In response, Trump’s attorneys claimed that prosecutors were attempting to silence him and deny his First Amendment rights, while Trump himself argued that efforts to limit his public speech were driven by President Joe Biden’s desire to strip him of his rights.
In addition to the comments about Milley, Raffensperger, and Barr, Trump’s social media posts cast doubt on the fairness of the judge and prosecutors in the case. The special counsel’s office pointed out that such statements could improperly disseminate information about the substance of the case, potentially influencing public opinion. U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is presiding over the case, has scheduled an October 16 hearing to discuss the potential for a gag order. Trump’s spokesperson did not comment on the filing, but earlier, Trump had argued that protective orders violated his First Amendment rights, claiming that Biden wanted to silence him.