Judge Cannon rejects request for gag order against Donald Trump in classified documents case



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Federal Judge Aileen Cannon on Tuesday rejected special counsel Jack Smith’s request for a gag order against Donald Trump in the classified documents case, saying prosecutors’ efforts to consult with the defendant were “totally lacking in substance and professional courtesy.” “.

In a brief order, Cannon criticized prosecutors for not following court rules by failing to meaningfully consult with Trump’s defense attorneys about a potential gag order before making the request.

“Because the Special Counsel’s Motion filing failed to meet these basic requirements, it must be denied without prejudice,” Cannon wrote, adding, “needless to say, significant concession is not a superficial exercise.”

The judge’s order highlights the cumbersome filing process that has repeatedly plagued the case as it moves toward trial.

Prosecutors can request a gag order again, Cannon said, once they give Trump’s defense team “sufficient time” to read the motion and discuss it with prosecutors.

The special counsel’s request, the first in the classified documents mishandling case, came after Trump repeatedly and misleadingly criticized the FBI for having a policy around the use of deadly force during the search and seizure of government records in your resort in August 2022.

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Trump’s campaign, for example, sent out a fundraising email on Tuesday claiming that FBI agents were “locked and loaded” and that he “nearly escaped death” at Mar-a-Lago.

While Trump has told his supporters that he may have been in danger because of politics, it is standard protocol for FBI searches and limits how agents can use force in search operations. The same standard FBI policy was used in searches of President Joe Biden’s homes and offices in a separate investigation of classified documents.

In a heated court filing late on Memorial Day, Trump’s lawyers said the gag order request was an “extraordinary, unprecedented and unconstitutional application of censorship” to attack Trump’s speech while he is running for president. .

The lawyers also said that prosecutors, whom they called the “self-proclaimed thought police,” were “seeking to condition President Trump’s freedom on his compliance” with their own views.

Although many outside legal experts have criticized Cannon’s approach to the classified documents case in the past, in this case Cannon was “right,” said Mark Schnapp, a South Florida defense attorney not involved in the case, who noted the court’s decision. local rules for meetings and conferences.

Schnapp said it “just looks bad” for prosecutors to move forward with filing the motion on a Friday night of a holiday weekend when the defense team had offered to discuss the gag order request on Monday. .

“Was it going to be an exercise in futility? Yes,” Schnapp said. “But it wasn’t the kind of thing they should have filed without following the rules.”

This story has been updated with additional details.