Trump Limited by Judge from exposing Acute 2020 Election Case Evidence

August 15, 2023: The federal judge overseeing Donald Trump’s election interference case whipped out the details of a protective order at the center of an early dispute between the retired president’s attorneys and special counsel Jack Smith’s prosecutors.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, hearing in Washington, D.C., sided with Trump’s lawyers, who challenged the government’s request for a broader ban on disclosing evidence and other materials it had gathered in the case.

But she allowed the Department of Justice to deem which materials are “sensitive” enough to be covered by the protective order.

The judge brushed aside a defense attorney’s concerns that the protective order could hamper Trump’s political speech as he seeks the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

“The existence of a political campaign is not going to have any bearing on my decision,” Chutkan said, NBC News reported.

Before the hearing wrapped, Chutkan told Trump and his team to avoid making any public statements that could impact the integrity of the case. She warned that the more a party makes shared ideas that could influence potential jurors, the faster the case will head to trial.

“Even arguably ambiguous statements by the parties or their counsel, if they could be reasonably interpreted to intimidate witnesses or to prejudice potential jurors, can threaten the process,” she said.

As it argued for the broader order, the Justice Department had previously flagged Trump’s highly active and bombastic social media presence. Trump has asserted that the trial should be postponed until after the 2024 election, if at all.

Trump faces four counts related to his efforts to overturn his loss to President Joe Biden in the 2020 election. He pleaded not guilty last week in federal court in Washington, D.C.

Prosecutor Thomas Windom argued in Friday’s hearing that barring Trump from disclosing any discovery in the case was necessary for witness safety and ensuring a fair trial. He warned that Trump’s request for a narrower protective order is only part of an effort to “try this case in the media” rather than in the courtroom.

Trump’s lawyers have accused the DOJ of seeking to censor a leading presidential candidate’s political speech. They have asked the court for an order that only forbids public exposure of “genuinely sensitive materials.”

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