The Department of Justice (DOJ) wants Donald Trump’s social media posting restricted. Special counsel Jack Smith requested the protective order to prevent the former president from sharing case details online, but what if that crosses the line into a First Amendment violation, as Trump’s legal team suggests? Is silencing Trump safeguarding justice or stifling free speech?
Trump and His Lawyers Strike Back
One of the former president’s lawyers, John Lauro, spoke out against the protective order in a heated appearance on CNN. “The point is that we will not agree to keeping information that’s not sensitive from the press,” Lauro said. “And the American people in a campaign season have a right to know what the evidence is, in this case, provided that this evidence is not protected otherwise. So we’re gonna oppose it as we have, but for whatever reason, these lawyers on the prosecution team want to keep that from the press.”
Smith requested the protective order Friday night after Trump posted what prosecutors interpret as a threat: “IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU!” A spokesperson for the former president said in a statement that this is “the definition of political speech” and that it was made in response to “dishonest special interest groups and Super PACs.” In other words, the Trump campaign claims it had nothing to do with the legal cases – and it’s a vague enough message that there’s really no way to prove otherwise.
Still, Judge Tanya Chutkan acquiesced to the prosecution’s request on Saturday by ordering Trump’s legal team to respond to it by 5 p.m. Monday. “If Defendant disagrees with any portion of the government’s proposed Protective Order, his response shall include a revised version of that Protective Order with any modifications in red line,” Chutkan wrote. Trump’s lawyers requested a three-day extension, which was denied. As Lauro said, though, the Trump team will fight it. The defendant’s response was a demand the judge be removed from the case.
“THERE IS NO WAY I CAN GET A FAIR TRIAL WITH THE JUDGE ‘ASSIGNED’ TO THE RIDICULOUS FREEDOM OF SPEECH/FAIR ELECTIONS CASE. EVERYBODY KNOWS THIS,” Trump wrote in all caps on Truth Social. “EVERYBODY KNOWS THIS, AND SO DOES SHE! WE WILL BE IMMEDIATELY ASKING FOR RECUSAL OF THIS JUDGE ON VERY POWERFUL GROUNDS, AND LIKEWISE FOR A VENUE CHANGE, OUT IF (sic) D.C.”
Safeguarding Justice or Stifling Free Speech?
Though Smith cites a fear that the former president will post sensitive discovery documents online, one must wonder if posts like the above aren’t the real reason prosecutors want the protective order. In his demand for Judge Chutkan to be replaced, Mr. Trump addresses both the issue with the DOJ’s request and the initial indictment itself: the First Amendment right to free speech.
If Donald Trump truly believes that the election had been stolen from him, why would he not have the right, protected by the First Amendment, to express that political belief and challenge the election, as many politicians from both sides of the aisle have done over the years?
The people behind the prosecutions want Trump silenced for the same reason Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) wants the trials themselves to be televised; it’s about controlling the narrative. That’s why the same set of folks can want both of those things to happen, even though they’re contradictory in principle: The protective order would prohibit sharing documents and televising Trump trials would air it all out – or, as Liberty Nation’s Graham J. Noble explained, at least as much of it as the left-wing media is willing to show. For anyone wondering why the establishment press isn’t going to war over the protective order, the same answer applies: It’s all about controlling the narrative. The anti-Trump media doesn’t want their nemesis making his points any more than the Biden-controlled DOJ does.
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