DC judge rejects Trump team’s delay attempt and schedules protective order hearing

Trump lawyers suggest later dates as possible delay tactic

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Wednesday 09 August 2023 09:40 EDT

Related video: Former Secret Service agent shares how Trump might be protected in prison

Washington, DC Federal District Judge Tanya Chutkan chose to ignore the latest delay attempt by Donald Trump’s legal team when scheduling a hearing regarding a protective order to prevent the former president from sharing certain details set to be revealed in the discovery process.

This comes after Mr Trump’s lawyers appeared to ignore the judge’s orders in their latest filing in the case related to his attempts to overturn the 2020 election.

US Department of Justice special counsel Jack Smith and the Trump defence team submitted their suggestions for when a hearing may be held on prosecutors’ proposed “protective order” to restrict what the former president can share about the case.

Judge Tanya Chutkan requested a hearing date between 9 and 11 August. The special counsel said his team would be available on any of those days while Mr Trump’s team ignored the judge’s order and suggested 14 or 15 August.

On Tuesday, the judge ultimately set a hearing date for 10am ET on 11 August.

In a filing on Monday night, the special counsel’s office wrote that Mr Trump was attempting to “litigate this case in the media”.

This came after Mr Trump objected to the proposal that public discussion of the discovery evidence in the case be restricted.

“The defendant’s principal objection to it – as defense counsel stated publicly yesterday, and in conference with Government counsel – is that it would not permit the defendant or his counsel to publicly disseminate, and publicize in the media, various materials obtained from the Government in discovery,” the office wrote. “But there is no right to publicly release discovery material, because the discovery process is designed to ensure a fair process before the Court, not to provide the defendant an opportunity to improperly press his case in the court of public opinion.”

The filing came shortly after Mr Trump’s attorneys requested that the judge in charge of the case give permission to the former president to use large parts of the discovery materials while campaigning for the 2024 Republican nomination for president.

Over the course of 13 pages, the attorneys responded to the government’s motion for a protective order banning Mr Trump from sharing any of the material that is set to be handed over by the prosecution during the pre-trial discovery process.

Mr Trump faces three criminal conspiracy charges and a charge of obstruction of an official proceeding.

The defence lawyers argued that the standard protective order would mean that the judge would be able to “censor” Mr Trump and put in place “content-based restrictions” on his “political speech”.

Prosecutors pointed to Mr Trump’s frequent “public statements on social media regarding witnesses, judges, attorneys, and others associated with legal matters pending against him,” including insults and attacks lobbed at the prosecutors and judges overseeing other criminal cases and investigations in New York and Georgia.

They had asked the judge to impose an order barring Mr Trump from sharing discovery materials “directly or indirectly to any person or entity other than persons employed to assist in the defense, persons who are interviewed as potential witnesses, counsel for potential witnesses, and other persons to whom the Court may authorize disclosure”.

Mr Smith filed the request for the protective order on Friday night after Mr Trump posted “If you go after me, I’m coming after you” on Truth Social. The special counsel argued that Mr Trump’s posts may have an effect on witnesses.

The Trump legal team claimed to be busy this week, requesting a delay until next week for the hearing now set for Friday.

“President Trump will not appear. However, he would like to have both his counsel John Lauro and Todd Blanche at the hearing,” the lawyers wrote to the court, according to Mediaite. “Todd Blanche is not available on Thursday, since he must appear for a court proceeding in the prosecution brought against the same defendant, President Trump, by the Special Counsel in SD Florida. Mr. Lauro is available on Thursday, with a preference for an afternoon setting. However, since we lost Friday as an option, we would respectfully request a setting on Monday (after 12:00 p.m.) or Tuesday (all day) to allow for both Mr. Blanche and Mr. Lauro to be present.”

Judge Chutkun wrote in a “minute order” that “The court hereby schedules a hearing on the parties’ respective protective order proposals in this matter on August 11, 2023 at 10:00 AM in Courtroom 9. The requirement of Defendant’s appearance is waived for this hearing”.

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