Oct 26, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Special counsel cites Trump's attack on Meadows in bid to resume gag order

Donald Trump speaks to the media moments after he was fined $10,000 for what Justice Arthur Engoron says is his second violation of a partial gag order at his civil fraud trial at New York State Supreme Court on October 25

Donald Trump speaks to the media at New York State Supreme Court on Oct. 25. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Special counsel Jack Smith on Wednesday called for the narrow gag order against former President Trump in the 2020 federal election case to be reinstated, citing Trump's attacks on former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

Why it matters: Trump's "recent social media posts targeting a known witness in this case in an attempt to influence and intimidate him" underscore the need to lift a temporary stay on the order, Smith wrote in a court filing Wednesday.

Catch up quick: U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan, who is presiding over Trump's federal Jan. 6 case, granted the narrow gag order last week.

  • She then froze the order until at least Oct. 28 to give Trump and his legal more time to explain their request keep the order stayed while he appealed it.

The big picture: ABC News reported earlier this week that Meadows had been granted immunity to testify under oath to Smith's team.

  • Not long after, Trump took to his Truth Social account to take aim at his former chief of staff.
  • "Some people would make that deal, but they are weaklings and cowards, and so bad for the future our Failing Nation. I don't think that Mark Meadows is one of them, but who really knows?" Trump wrote.

Zoom in: Smith cited the post in Wednesday's filing, arguing it showed that the gag order against Trump should be reinstated.

  • "The defendant's targeting included insinuating that if the reporting were true, the Chief of Staff had lied and had been coerced, and the defendant sent a clear public message to the Chief of Staff, intended to intimidate him," Smith wrote.
  • "Unless the Court lifts the administrative stay, the defendant will not stop his harmful and prejudicial attacks."

Zoom out: Trump has used the gag order freeze "to, among other prejudicial conduct, send an unmistakable and threatening message to a foreseeable witness in this case," Smith wrote.

  • Trump's conditions of release should be modified "to protect witnesses from his attacks," he said.
  • The case is set to go to trial in March.

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