Jack Smith seeks another gag order on Trump, this time for 'inflammatory' statements about Mar-a-Lago raid

 May 25, 2024

Former President Donald Trump's right to free speech has already been limited in two of the four criminal cases he faces, and now he potentially faces similar constraints in a third case.

On Friday, Special Counsel Jack Smith urged the presiding judge in the federal classified documents case to prohibit Trump from making allegedly threatening statements against the FBI and law enforcement more generally, according to The U.K.'s Independent.

Smith's move comes in response to multiple recent "inflammatory" claims from Trump about the revelation that the FBI was authorized by standard boilerplate language in the search warrant to use deadly force if necessary during its August 2022 raid of his Mar-a-Lago residence in South Florida.

Trump's remarks about the FBI's use-of-force policy

It was recently revealed in a court filing that when the FBI requested and obtained the Mar-a-Lago search warrant, it contained a section on the Bureau's standard use-of-force policy that generally prohibits the use of deadly force unless an agent has a "reasonable belief" that the "subject of such force poses an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the officer or to another person."

Former President Trump and some of his allies took that information and ran with it, with Trump himself stating that the FBI was "authorized to shoot me" and that the Biden administration was "locked & loaded ready to take me out & put my family in danger," among other hyperbolic claims.

As has been noted by some, however, the use-of-force language is fairly standard in search warrants and, in this particular case, the FBI went out of its way to purposefully ensure that Trump and his family were not at Mar-a-Lago when the search was conducted to further reduce the possibility of any potential conflict.

Trump accused of making "intentionally false and inflammatory statements" about law enforcement

Yet, rather than overlook the former president's penchant for hyperbole, Special Counsel Smith decided to one-up it with his own rhetorical absurdity in a ridiculous 12-page filing on Friday that urged District Judge Aileen Cannon to impose a sort of limited gag order on Trump, at least with regard to future statements about law enforcement.

The motion called for a modification of Trump's conditions of release "to make clear that he 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."

"The Government’s request is necessary because of several intentionally false and inflammatory statements recently made by Trump that distort the circumstances under which the Federal Bureau of Investigation planned and executed the search warrant at Mar-a-Lago," the motion continued.

"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," Smith's filing said.

Smith wants another gag order imposed on Trump

Special Counsel Smith's motion went on to outline how the inclusion of the FBI's use-of-force policy is "routine" and how former President Trump and his family were never in any danger, despite Trump's apparent assertions to the contrary.

"These deceptive and inflammatory claims expose the law enforcement professionals who are involved in this case to unjustified and unacceptable risks: they invite the sort of threats and harassment that have occurred when other participants in legal proceedings against Trump have been targeted by his invective," the motion stated. "Those risks have the potential to undermine the integrity of the proceedings as well as jeopardize the safety of law enforcement."

"A condition of release that prohibits the defendant from making statements posing a significant, imminent, and foreseeable danger to law enforcement agents participating in the investigation and prosecution of this case is warranted and necessary here," Smith's filing added. "Such a prohibition will also minimize further prejudice caused by the defendant directing false and inflammatory messages regarding the facts of this case to potential jurors who may be summoned by the Court for jury service in this matter."

It should be noted that Smith previously obtained a gag order against Trump in his 2020 election-related case in Washington D.C., which was upheld by a federal appeals court, while Trump is also subject to a similar gag order in his ongoing "hush money" trial in New York.

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