Justice Department Special Counsel Jack Smith warned Tuesday that former President Donald Trump's “daily” comments risked impairing a jury panel in Washington in the criminal trial alleging he overturned the results of the 2020 presidential election .
Trump's provocative remarks about both Smith's team and US District Judge Tanya Chutkan – who is presiding over the case – have been a central issue since the indictment was filed last month. Prosecutors have repeatedly expressed concern about the impact of Trump's social media posts, and Chutkan specifically warned Trump against inflammatory statements that could intimidate witnesses or contaminate potential jurors.
Posts continued Tuesday both before and after the recent concern flared up, with Trump sharing a New York Post article about Chutkan on his platform Truth Social earlier in the day, openly mocking the idea that she was in his case might be fair. Later that evening, he published another post attacking Smith as a “crazy” prosecutor with “uncontrolled and insane aggression.”
The Justice Department's latest complaint underscores the extent to which Trump's social media attacks are testing prosecutors' patience and also exposing him to sanctions from the judge, who last week set the trial date for March 4, 2024, for meeting it the case is moving. Trump was also warned in other cases. His release at a separate trial in Atlanta was conditional on his failure to intimidate co-defendants, witnesses or victims in the case.
The issue surfaced again on Tuesday in a dispute over a file the Justice Department wanted to keep under wraps that it suspected was confidential information, with an accompanying redacted version to be placed in the public files. Defense attorneys objected, saying they were entitled to time to review the Justice Department files and any proposed sealed evidence.
But prosecutors said it was untenable if it took the court several weeks to decide whether “any ordinary record relating to sensitive materials should be included in the record.”
“Such a requirement would stall the litigation in this case, which is impracticable, particularly given the urgency of matters before the court – including the defendant's day-to-day extrajudicial testimony that threatens to damage the jury pool in this case, as detailed in the government's motion.” is,” wrote the Smith team.
Chutkan agreed with the Trump team that it should have time to act on the Justice Department filings and set deadlines for next week.
In addition to the case of subversion in the federal election, Trump is confronted with three other criminal proceedings. He is charged with 18 others in a state trial in Atlanta for conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 Georgia election; is sued nationwide by Smith for accusing him of illegally hoarding classified documents; and is accused in New York of falsifying business documents in connection with a hush money payment to a porn actor.
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