Prosecutors Seek to Bar Trump From Attacking F.B.I. Agents in Documents Case

Prosecutors Seek to Bar Trump From Attacking F.B.I. Agents in Documents Case

On Friday evening, federal prosecutors asked the judge overseeing former President Donald J. Trump’s classified documents case to bar him from making any statements that could endanger law enforcement officials involved in the trial.

Prosecutors filed the motion after Mr. Trump made what they called “grossly misleading” claims about the FBI’s August 2022 search of Mar-a-Lago, his private club and residence in Florida. This week, the former president falsely claimed that the FBI had been authorized to shoot him when agents executing a court-authorized search warrant there discovered more than 100 classified documents.

In a social media post on Tuesday, Mr. Trump falsely claimed that President Biden had “authorized the FBI to use lethal force during the search.”

Mr. Trump’s post came in response to an FBI operational plan for the Mar-a-Lago search that was overturned on Tuesday as part of a legal motion filed by Mr. Trump’s lawyers. The plan included a boilerplate reference to authorizing deadly force in emergencies, which prosecutors said Mr. Trump heavily distorted.

“As Trump well knows, the FBI took extraordinary care to execute the search warrant quietly and without unnecessary confrontation,” prosecutors wrote in a filing to Judge Aileen M. Cannon, who is overseeing the confidential documents case.

“They planned the search of Mar-a-Lago at a time when he and his family would not be there,” prosecutors added. “They planned to coordinate with Trump’s attorney, Secret Service agents and Mar-a-Lago employees before and during the execution of the warrant; and they planned contingencies – which actually never came – about who to communicate with should Trump arrive on the scene.”

The request to Judge Cannon marked the first time that prosecutors in special counsel Jack Smith’s office sought to restrict Mr. Trump’s public statements in the classified documents case. But Mr. Trump, who has repeatedly attacked witnesses, court officials and others in his four criminal trials, is under confidentiality rules in two of his other three cases.

Prosecutors did not seek to impose a gag order on Mr. Trump in the secret documents case, but instead asked Judge Cannon to revise his release conditions to prohibit him from making public comments “that pose a substantial, immediate and foreseeable threat to the law.” “. Law enforcement officers involved in the investigation.”

If Judge Cannon still approves the request, it would mean that Mr. Trump could be remanded in custody if he violates the amended conditions.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers objected to the request, complaining that it was made on a holiday weekend, according to the motion filed by prosecutors. The attorneys did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Mr. Smith’s team has shown signs in recent days of losing patience with Mr. Trump and his lawyers. And the former president’s “deliberately false and inflammatory statements” about the Mar-a-Lago search, as prosecutors put it, appeared to cross a line and required a serious response.

First, prosecutors said in their motion to Judge Cannon that Mr. Trump’s twisted deadly force language was a “standard and safe” provision routinely used in “countless no-knock warrants across the country.”

The measure specifically states that deadly force is prohibited except in cases of “imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm,” and is included in orders restricting the use of weapons during searches.

But prosecutors said Mr. Trump “grossly distorted these standard practices by falsely portraying them as a plot to kill him, his family and U.S. Secret Service agents.”

By falsely claiming that FBI agents “engaged in a conspiracy to assassinate him,” prosecutors wrote, Mr. Trump exposed them “to the risk of threats, violence and harassment.”

“These misleading and inflammatory claims irresponsibly put a target on the backs of the FBI agents involved in this case, as Trump well knows,” prosecutors wrote.

To support their case, prosecutors reminded Judge Cannon that a few days after the Mar-a-Lago search – a judicial investigative move that Mr. Trump denounced on social media as an attack against him – a gunman in Ohio tried to to shoot his way into an FBI field office near Cincinnati.

The man, Ricky W. Shiffer, had said at the time that “patriots” should travel to Florida to defend Mr. Trump and kill FBI agents. Mr. Shiffer was eventually killed in a shootout with local police.

Trump is already facing a gag order in another federal case in Washington accusing him of trying to overturn the 2020 election. That case has been on hold for months as the Supreme Court considers Mr. Trump’s claim that he is immune from the charges because they stem from actions he took while serving as president.

Mr. Trump is also under a gag order at his federal trial in Manhattan on charges that he covered up a hush-money payment to a porn star on the eve of the 2016 election. The judge overseeing that trial has twice found Mr. Trump in contempt and fined him $10,000 for threatening witnesses and jurors in the case.

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2024-05-25 04:09:50