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Jack Smith moves to muzzle Trump

Special Counsel Jack Smith filed Friday for an order of protection “against the dissemination of discovery documents and the sensitive information they contain,” in connection with the Justice Department’s criminal case against the former President Donald Trump. The order would directly block Trump from publicly disclosing evidence and documents shared with him and his legal team by the DOJ.

Trump was arrested and arraigned in Miami on Tuesday on 37 counts, including violations of the Espionage Act, conspiracy to obstruct justice, corruptly concealing a record or a document and the concealment of a document in connection with a federal investigation. The charges were brought by the DOJ following their months-long investigation into Trump’s hoarding of classified documents after he left office.

As the case moves toward discovery, Smith is seeking to protect documents that may be provided to Trump’s defense team and which could potentially contain “information relating to ongoing investigations, the disclosure of which could compromise those investigations and identify unindicted persons”.

According to the filing, “the government has spoken with attorneys for defendant Donald J. Trump and defendant Waltine Nauta, who have no objection to this motion or the protective order.”

The order would require that documents provided to Trump’s team remain “in the custody and control of defense counsel” and that lawyers for the former president must store the documents securely and “clearly indicate that the documents are subject to the order”. The order is likely self-explanatory given that a significant part of the government’s case against Trump revolves around the insecure storage of highly classified and sensitive information.

Additionally, the order prohibits Trump, his co-defendant Walt Nauta and his legal counsel from “[disclosing] the Discovery Materials or their contents directly or indirectly to any person or entity other than persons employed to assist in the defense, persons interviewed as potential witnesses, attorneys for potential witnesses and such other persons as the Court may authorize disclosure. This includes a direct ban on sharing materials with the public or the media, including through social media platforms.

Trump will only be allowed to view the documents “under the direct supervision of the defense attorney or a member of the defense attorney’s staff.” He cannot keep any copies of what is shown to him, and his notes must be kept “safely” by his lawyers.

The request is extremely similar to a protective order sought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg in his own criminal case against Trump. The former president was arrested in April on 34 counts of falsifying business records in connection with his 2016 silent payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

Bragg raised similar concerns about Trump’s potential misuse of evidence and discovery documents with Judge Juan Manuel Merchan in April. The order was granted in May.

Smith is also leading a separate investigation into Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. On Friday, the the wall street journal reported that Trump’s defense team may seek to block his former Vice President Mike Pence’s testimony from the grand jury’s decision on whether or not to indict the former president in connection with the investigation.

Smiths’ probe was expansive. In April, The Washington Post reported that the DOJ had begun to explore allegations that the Trump campaign defrauded donors by touting false allegations of voter fraud, as well as digging deeper into efforts to overturn election results in individual states.

But a third criminal case against Trump is still a long way off. Sources say Log that some of Smith’s questions to witnesses indicate that the special advocate may be aiming to produce a full report rather than an indictment.

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