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BULLETIN: Special Counsel Jack Smith Wants Protective Order Against Trump

DEVELOPING STORY: U.S. prosecutors flagged a threatening social media post from Donald Trump in a late-night court filing on Friday, arguing that it suggests he might intimidate witnesses by improperly disclosing confidential evidence received from the government. And now they want a protective order.

On his Truth Social site, the former president wrote, “IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU!” on Friday afternoon, a day after he pleaded not guilty to charges that he orchestrated a criminal conspiracy to try to reverse his 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden.

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In the filing in Washington federal court, the office of Special Counsel Jack Smith said Trump’s post raised concerns that he might publicly reveal secret material, such as grand jury transcripts, obtained from prosecutors.

Under the process known as discovery, prosecutors are required to provide defendants with the evidence against them so they can prepare their defense.

“It could have a harmful chilling effect on witnesses or adversely affect the fair administration of justice in this case,” prosecutors wrote, noting that Trump has a history of attacking judges, attorneys and witnesses in other cases against him.

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At his arraignment on Thursday, Trump swore not to intimidate witnesses or communicate with them without legal counsel present.

The prosecutors’ filing asked U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan to issue a protective order prohibiting Trump and his lawyers from sharing any discovery materials with unauthorized people.

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Protective orders are routine in cases involving confidential documents, but prosecutors said it was particularly important to restrict public dissemination given Trump’s social media statements.

A Trump spokesperson issued a statement defending the former president’s social media post.

“The Truth post cited is the definition of political speech, and was in response to the Rino, China-loving, dishonest special interest groups and super PAC’s,” the statement said.

Trump has also pleaded not guilty in two other criminal cases. He faces federal charges in Miami for allegedly retaining classified documents after leaving office and obstructing justice, and state charges in Manhattan for allegedly falsifying business records to hide hush money payments to a porn star.

He faces a possible fourth indictment in Georgia, where Atlanta prosecutors have been investigating his efforts to overturn the election results there.

Trump has portrayed all of the investigations as part of a political witch hunt intended to stymie his 2024 campaign.

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