/Prosecutors aim to ‘silence’ Trump with proposed gag order in 2020 election case, his lawyers say

Prosecutors aim to ‘silence’ Trump with proposed gag order in 2020 election case, his lawyers say

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump’s lawyers argued Monday that special counsel Jack Smith‘s motion for a proposed gag order in the 2020 election interference case is an attempt to strip the former president of his First Amendment rights and silence President Joe Biden’s top political opponent.

In a 25-page filing responding to the proposed gag order, Trump’s attorneys called on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to “reject this transparent gamesmanship and deny the motion entirely.”

The proposed gag order is “nothing more than an obvious attempt by the Biden Administration to unlawfully silence its most prominent political opponent, who has now taken a commanding lead in the polls,” Trump’s lawyers wrote.

Trump’s legal team argued that neither prosecutors nor the court “are the filter for what the public may hear” and said Smith’s office can’t explain how Trump’s statements would intimidate anyone or provoke lawlessness.

In addition, they said, the proposed gag order “places President Trump at risk of contempt any time he speaks about anyone relevant to his political campaign.” If granted, it would block Trump from making certain extrajudicial comments in the case.

Trump’s lawyers also said that they shouldn’t be required to seek the court’s permission before conducting pretrial public opinion polling on the case, which is scheduled to go to trial in March 2024.

“The prosecution in this case already knows the population of Washington D.C. and knows that it does not favor President Trump,” Trump’s defense team wrote. “Any restrictions on pretrial polling would only work as a further disadvantage to the defense, which has the right to prepare for trial without prosecutorial interference.”

The former president’s legal team requested that the court schedule a hearing “at the first opportunity.”

The special counsel’s office did not immediately respond to NBC News’ request for comment.

Smith’s office filed the proposed gag order earlier this month, arguing that it is necessary given threats against people Trump has targeted in the case.

“The defendant has an established practice of issuing inflammatory public statements targeted at individuals or institutions that present an obstacle or challenge to him,” it wrote.

Prosecutors pointed as evidence to a message Trump posted on his social media website Truth Social in August, the day after he was arraigned in the case, which said, “IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU!”

Smith’s team also said that Trump has continued to spread “disparaging and inflammatory public posts on Truth Social” almost every day targeting D.C. residents, prosecutors, prospective witnesses and the court.

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