Judge Rejects Gag Order On Trump In Florida Documents Criminal Case

Trump Gag Order Florida

A federal judge on Tuesday rejected prosecutors’ request to issue a gag order barring Donald Trump from making inflammatory comments about law enforcement.

Trump’s campaign had falsely claimed the FBI had authorization to assassinate him when it searched his Florida resort for classified U.S. documents.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, based in Florida, rebuffed Special Counsel Jack Smith’s motion to modify Trump’s conditions of release as he awaits trial on charges of mishandling classified material. Smith argued that Trump’s “false and inflammatory” comments about the FBI could incite threats, violence, or harassment against the agency and trial witnesses.

Judge Cannon, appointed by Trump in 2020, criticized Smith for not meaningfully conferring with Trump’s lawyers before requesting the gag order. She described the special counsel’s conferral as “wholly lacking in substance and professional courtesy.”

This case is one of four criminal cases Trump faces while campaigning as the Republican challenger to Democratic President Joe Biden in the November 5 election.

Trump’s lawyers opposed Smith’s request and sought sanctions against the prosecutors, accusing them of bad faith by filing the motion on a Friday night before a three-day holiday weekend, which they claimed did not provide the defense team sufficient notice to discuss the matter. Judge Cannon declined the sanctions request but warned of potential sanctions if future motions do not comply with local court rules requiring “meaningful, timely, and professional conferral.”

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 40 federal counts charging him with retaining classified national security records at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida after leaving the presidency in 2021 and obstructing the Justice Department’s efforts to retrieve them.

On Tuesday, a New York jury heard closing arguments before deciding whether to convict Trump on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records to cover up hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels to advance his 2016 presidential campaign.

Other judges have imposed gag orders on Trump in the hush money case and in a second criminal case pursued by Smith, which charges Trump with unlawfully trying to overturn his 2020 election loss. These orders prohibit Trump from making derogatory public comments about jurors, witnesses, and court staff. In the hush money case, Justice Juan Merchan fined Trump $10,000 for violating the gag order ten times.

Attorney General Merrick Garland recently criticized “unfounded attacks” against the FBI and the Justice Department by Trump’s Republican allies, saying such attacks endanger the lives of agents and prosecutors.

In the request to Judge Cannon, Smith and two other prosecutors said Trump’s comments about the FBI’s August 2022 search of his Mar-a-Lago home contradicted the actual events and distorted FBI policy.

They stated that the FBI “took extraordinary care” to carry out a court-approved search warrant “unobstructively and without needless confrontation,” and noted that the search occurred when Trump and his family were not at the property. The FBI policy prohibits the use of deadly force except when an agent reasonably believes a subject poses an “imminent danger of death or serious physical injury.”