The Justice Department stressed in a Friday evening court filing that a federal judge in Washington should impose firm rules on Donald Trump and his attorneys as they review materials during the discovery process of his trial, citing, in part, the former president’s history of revealing details about cases on social media.
The filing comes as the federal case centered on Trump’s alleged efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election gets underway. Trump pleaded not guilty on Thursday to four crimes that the government has accused of him committing, including scheming to disrupt the election process and depriving Americans of their right to have their votes counted.
The government and Trump’s lawyers are still working out proposed rules that the former president and his legal team must abide by when they review evidence materials during the discovery process — when the defense team reviews all the evidence that the government has collected in the case. It is a standard part of the legal process and a judge must sign off on the agreement. Evidence that is handed over in the discovery process includes grand jury interviews, recordings and materials obtained through sealed search warrants.
The government’s proposed agreement — called a protective order — dictates that Trump and his lawyers should not disclose any of the materials they receive during the discovery process to people who are not authorized by the court to view the materials.
Prosecutors said that while the agreement is not stricter than ones in standard criminal cases, it is particularly important in this case because Trump has posted about judges, lawyers and witnesses involved in the multiple ongoing cases in which he is a defendant.
The filing includes an image of a post that Trump wrote on the Truth Social platform earlier on Friday, apparently in reference to the D.C. case, that reads: “IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU!”
“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,” read the filing, signed by special counsel Jack Smith.
The filing also states that Trump and his attorneys should be barred from writing down any identifying information about people involved in the case.
Trump has posted on social media disparaging comments about the investigation and Smith, the prosecutor in charge of the case. Trump has called Smith “deranged” and a “psycho” and said he “looks like a crackhead.”