Jack Smith Wants to Keep Trump From Litigating the D.C. Case in the Media. Can That Work?

By Allan Lengel

Special Counsel Jack Smith is up against a formidable opponent, Donald Trump. He fears the ex-president will disclose pretrial evidence and use it to litigate the D.C. case in the media. Trump’s lawyers are pushing back, saying Smith and the Biden administration are trying to mute their client and violet his First Amendment rights in the midst of a campaign to return to the White House.

Jack Smith and Donald Trump

In a motion last week, Smith asked the judge for a protective order that would restrict Trump from discussing discovery materials. The government wants to block access to materials to anyone who is not part of the defense team, a potential witnesses, a witnesses’ lawyer, or anyone else not approved by the court.

In a filing Monday, Smith wrote that “the defendant seeks to use the discovery material to litigate this case in the media. But that is contrary to the purpose of criminal discovery.”

He notes that that on Sunday, Trump’s lawyer John Lauro appeared on five television programs and discussed ” this case in detail, publicly commenting on topics including the parties’ disagreement over the protective order, the defense’s planned legal arguments, the defendant’s actions and statements
during the charged conspiracies, and expected testimony of a prospective witness.”

“In television appearances, defense counsel also made specific claims about what the defendant
allegedly said and did during the charged criminal conspiracies, and discussed anticipated
testimony of Michael R. Pence, stating on ABC that the former Vice President would “be one of
our best witnesses,” and on CBS that “the Vice President will be our best witness,” Smith’s filing said.

Trump’s lawyers in a filing pushed back against the order, arguing that it was far too broad, and instead of focusing on sensitive matters it was for all documents produced by the government.

“In a trial about First Amendment rights, the government seeks to restrict First Amendment rights,” Trump’s attorney’s Lauro and Flizah Pavalon wrote. “Worse it does so against its administration’s primary political opponent, during an election season in which the administration, prominent party members, and media allies have campaigned on the indictment and proliferated its false allegations.”

The government’s indictment argues that Trump can say whatever he likes about the 2020 election. But it became criminal when he allegedly plotted to overturn the results.

A hearing is set for Friday.

Leave a Reply