Judge Cannon denies special counsel request to bar Trump from making statements about law enforcement

The special counsel said Trump's statements may pose a risk to law enforcement.

May 28, 2024, 11:35 AM

The federal judge overseeing former President Donald Trump's classified documents case denied the special counsel's motion requesting that Trump be barred from making statements that could pose a significant risk to law enforcement.

Trump's lawyers argued that the special counsel violated Local Rule 88.9, which says both parties must "meet and confer" before filing motions so the court and the parties' time is used efficiently. In a filing Monday, Trump's lawyers asked Cannon to strike the special counsel's request and impose sanctions on any prosecutors involved in filing their motion.

Judge Aileen Cannon said the special counsel's "conferral" with Trump's lawyers is "wholly lacking in substance and professional courtesy."

Cannon agreed with Trump's lawyers that the special counsel should not have filed such a motion without meaningfully conferring with the defense, as the local rules require.

The judge said a failure to comply with those requirements may result in sanctions.

PHOTO: Special Counsel Jack Smith delivers remarks on an unsealed indictment including four felony counts against former U.S. President Donald Trump, Washington, D.C., Aug. 1, 2023.
Special Counsel Jack Smith delivers remarks on an unsealed indictment including four felony counts against former U.S. President Donald Trump, Washington, D.C., Aug. 1, 2023.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images/FILE

Trump's lawyers wrote, "For the reasons set forth below, in light of the Office's blatant violation of Local Rule 88.9 and related warnings from the Court, the Court should strike the Motion, make civil contempt findings as to all government attorneys who participated in the decision to file the Motion without meaningful conferral, and impose sanctions after holding an evidentiary hearing regarding the purpose and intent behind the Office's decision to willfully disregard required procedures."

Trump's lead defense attorney Todd Blanche had asked the special counsel to wait until Monday to meet and confer -- something the special counsel's office declined to do because they said Trump had created a situation with his public comments that couldn't wait the weekend to file.

"As we also tried to explain earlier, our judgment was that the situation your client has created necessitated a prompt request for relief that could not wait the weekend to file. We understand your position and represented to the court that you do not believe the government has engaged in adequate conferral here," special counsel prosecutor David Harbach wrote in an email to Trump's lawyers.

The request by the special counsel followed Trump's efforts to seize on an item of recently released discovery in the case that he falsely claims shows President Joe Biden planned to assassinate him during the search of his Mar-a-Lago club in August 2022.

"The Government moves to modify defendant Donald J. Trump's conditions of release, to make clear that he may not make statements that pose a significant, imminent, and foreseeable danger to law enforcement agents participating in the investigation and prosecution of this case," the filings from Smith said.

PHOTO: Former President Donald Trump speaks to the media with his attorney Todd Blanche during his criminal trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City, May 28, 2024.
Former President Donald Trump speaks to the media with his attorney Todd Blanche during his criminal trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City, May 28, 2024.
Andrew Kelly/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

In bolstering the request, the filing points to the attack on an FBI field office in Cincinnati, Ohio, which they say was in the wake of statements Trump made "inflaming his supporters" following the August search.

Trump pleaded not guilty last June to 37 criminal counts related to his handling of classified materials after leaving the White House, after prosecutors said he repeatedly refused to return hundreds of documents containing classified information ranging from U.S. nuclear secrets to the nation's defense capabilities, and took steps to thwart the government's efforts to get the documents back.

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