As the most recent federal case brought against former President Donald Trump continues to heat up, the presiding judge in the matter has ordered his lawyers to respond to a protective order request filed by the government and to do so by the close of business on Monday, as The Hill reports.
The move by Judge Tanya Chutkan came amid Special Counsel Jack Smith's motion seeking a stringent protective order designed to prevent Trump from discussing aspects of and evidence related to the 2020 election case in the public sphere.
Though Smith may have been planning to request such an order all along, a post made by Trump on his Truth Social platform on Friday may have been what triggered the same-day filing of the government's motion.
Trump wrote, “IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I'M COMING AFTER YOU!” a statement some alleged was overtly menacing and dangerous.
While the Trump campaign has disclaimed any notion that the post meant to convey any sort of threat, prosecutors contend that Trump's established patterns of commenting on litigation in public necessitate a comprehensive protective order in the Jan. 6 case.
Imploring Chutkan to impose just such a measure, Smith's team wrote in its filing, “Such a restriction is particularly important in this case because the defendant has previously issued public statements on social media regarding witnesses, judges, attorneys, and others associated with matters pending against him.”
“If the defendant were to begin issuing public posts using details – or, for example, grand jury transcripts – obtained in discovery here, it could have a harmful chilling effect on witnesses or adversely affect the fair administration of justice in this case,” the government went on.
Trump's legal team, however, sought a three-day extension to the response filing deadline, as the Washington Examiner noted.
“The government entertained no discussion regarding the content or scope of the Proposed Order, but instead demanded an immediate, take-it-or-leave-it response,” attorneys for the former president wrote.
Trump's lawyers continued, “Without doubt, discovery in this case will be extensive and likely present numerous complex issues. For that reason, it is essential to structure the parties' discussions in a methodical and, ideally, cooperate manner.”
“Friday evening ultimatums, given by the government before even calling the defense counsel, are wholly unproductive and undermine the potential for party-driven resolutions. Requiring a Monday response to a Friday evening motion likewise forecloses the possibility of agreement and would encourage such improper tactics by the government in the future,” the team added.
Despite those entreaties from the former president's legal counsel, Chutkan denied the extension request, as The Hill further noted, declaring that the Trump team is still free to confer with prosecutors on the scope of any proposed protective order both before and after the Monday response deadline.
Amid the weekend's legal back-and-forth, a Trump spokesperson blasted the prosecution's efforts to silence the former president and violate his First Amendment rights, saying, “The Truth post cited is the definition of political speech, and 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,” as the Examiner explained.
As things currently stand, the Trump team now needs either to acquiesce to the prosecution's suggested protective order or file a revised proposal by the end of the day on Monday, a scenario that almost certainly sets the stage for additional, highly contentious wrangling on the issue in the days and weeks to come.