Trump's Social Media Post Spurs Swift DOJ Response

Judge sets Monday deadline for defense's answer to special counsel's request for protective order on evidence
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 5, 2023 6:30 AM CDT
Updated Aug 5, 2023 12:00 PM CDT
Trump Posted on Social Media. DOJ Prosecutors Reacted
Former President Donald Trump speaks at a fundraiser event for the Alabama GOP on Friday in Montgomery, Alabama.   (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

This story has been updated with the judge's deadline.
When Donald Trump was arraigned on Thursday on felony charges that he tried to overturn results of the 2020 election, he was told he wouldn't be detained. The presiding judge warned the former president, however, that it was a crime to try to "influence a juror or try to threaten or bribe a witness or retaliate against anyone" tied to the case, per NPR. Trump said at the time he understood as much, but on late Friday evening, prosecutors working for special counsel Jack Smith filed a request for a protective order that would set limits on Trump's team sharing evidence in the case—and they cited one of Trump's social media posts to bolster their argument, report CNN and Politico.

Just after 3:30pm ET on Friday, Trump posted on his Truth Social platform a video that attacked Smith and other prominent names taking Trump on over his various legal issues, including New York Attorney General Letitia James, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, and Fani Willis, the DA for Fulton County, Georgia. Trump called the foursome President Biden's "unscrupulous accomplices ... assembled to get Trump." Then, not even 45 minutes later, Trump posted again, with a shorter, more cryptic message: "IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I'M COMING AFTER YOU!" It was that second post prosecutors cited in their Friday request to US District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan, asking her to grant their order that would keep Trump from sharing sensitive discovery evidence to the public. The prosecutors noted Trump's Truth Social post sent up a red flag that he might do just that via social media.

"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 legal matters pending against him," the filing notes. "And in recent days, regarding this case, the defendant has issued multiple posts—either specifically or by implication." Shortly after midnight, a "Trump spokesperson" put out a statement apparently responding to the filing, and the Truth Social post that was referenced in it.

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"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," read the statement, which didn't elaborate further. The judge responded on Saturday, setting a 5pm Monday deadline for Trump's lawyers to answer the government's filing, per the Washington Post. That would include any changes proposed to the requested protective order. (More Donald Trump stories.)

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