Updated Aug 8, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Trump election case judge sets protective order hearing date

Former President Trump speaks as the keynote speaker at the 56th Annual Silver Elephant Dinner on August 5 in Columbia, South Carolina. Photo: Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images

The lawyers for former President Trump on Monday opposed federal prosecutors' proposal for a protective order in the criminal case relating to his alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election, according to a filing.

Driving the news: Trump's team asked for narrower limits on the protective order, arguing that "the government seeks to restrict First Amendment rights."

  • The proposed protective order sought to block Trump's legal team from disclosing materials "directly or indirectly" to anybody who is not employed by his defense team, potential witnesses, counsel for potential witnesses and other persons at the discretion of the court, per the order that was amended by Trump's team in the filing.
  • Trump's team sought to define that requirement to include "attorneys, investigators, paralegals, support staff, consultants, or other expert witnesses who are advising or assisting defense counsel."

Trump's team also included in the filing a tweet from President Biden that appears to show him holding a mug featuring a photo of himself with laser eyes, an illustration commonly known as "Dark Brandon."

  • His team argues that Biden has "capitalized on the indictment, posting a thinly veiled reference to his administration's prosecution of [Trump] just hours before arraignment."

What they're saying: Special counsel Jack Smith's office defended the motion for a protective order in a separate filing on Monday, writing Trump's team "proposed an order designed to allow him to try this case in the media rather than in the courtroom."

  • "To safeguard witness privacy and the integrity of these proceedings, the Court should enter the Government's proposed protective order," his office wrote.

Zoom in: Prosecutors sought the protective order after Trump wrote on his Truth Social account following his third indictment: "If you go after me, I'm coming after you!"

  • Prosecutors cited the post to illustrate how the former president uses social media to comment on ongoing legal matters.
  • "The defendant has previously issued public statements on social media regarding witnesses, judges, attorneys, and others associated with legal matters pending against him," the filing said.

The other side: The post was "in response to the RINO, China-loving, dishonest special interest groups and Super PACs, like the ones funded by the Koch brothers and the Club for No Growth," Trump's team said in a statement.

  • Trump's team argues that his social media posts are "the definition of political speech."

The big picture: Trump was indicted last week on four counts by a grand jury convened by Smith over alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

  • He has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to defraud the U.S., conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding and conspiracy against rights.

What's next: Judge Tanya Chutkan, the federal judge overseeing the case, on Tuesday scheduled a hearing on the protective order for 10am Friday.

  • Trump does not have to attend the hearing.

Go deeper: Trump legal woes heat up with Jan. 6 indictment

Editor's note: This article has been updated to include details of a Monday filing from special counsel Jack Smith's office and Judge Tanya Chutkan's order.

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