Prosecutors led by special counsel Jack Smith gathered before a federal judge Friday with the hopes of stifling former President Donald Trump from disseminating any and all information about witnesses that might be called to testify in court.
Smith was unsuccessful.
What Happened: U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan declined Smith’s request to prevent what he deemed the “improper dissemination or use” of all evidence to the public that would be made available to Trump’s lawyers before a federal trial begins in early 2024.
Instead, Chutkan agreed with Trump’s legal camp, CBS News reported. Trump’s attorneys insisted discretion is necessary only for “sensitive” information. Therefore, Trump would be allowed to discuss “non-sensitive” material to the public, including his social media platform, Truth Social.
But what’s considered sensitive? All recordings, transcripts and reports of witness testimony, Chutkan explained.
Why It Matters: Trump has a penchant for deriding his opponents in public forums, especially now with his 2024 re-election campaign well underway.
Smith and his fellow prosecutors worry Trump’s habits could interfere with the case, considering high-profile witnesses — including former Vice President Mike Pence — will likely be called to testify.
Concerns spiked after Trump proclaimed, in all caps, on social media: “If you go after me, I’m coming after you.”
While the judge’s call boded well for Trump and what he can, and can’t, say to rile up his supporters, the stakes are still high. The Washington, D.C. trial, which centers around his role in the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on Capitol Hill, is expected to take up to six weeks and end well before Republicans convene in Milwaukee on July 15 for the party’s national convention.
What’s Next: The first batch of materials to be shared with Trump’s legal team is expected to be around 11.6 million pages.
Jury selection is expected to begin in December, with the trial set to begin on Jan. 2, 2024 — about two weeks before the Iowa Republican presidential caucuses on Jan. 15, 2024.
Trump, meanwhile, claimed Smith was trying to violate his first amendment rights. After all, prosecutors tried to get Twitter, now going by X, to turn over data it had regarding Trump’s direct messages prior to when he was banned from the social media platform. They were unsuccessful.
However, it’s the 14th Amendment Trump is likely most concerned with. It states that those who had taken an oath “to support the Constitution of the United States” are disqualified from holding office if they “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”
Produced in association with Benzinga
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