Lawyers representing former US President Donald Trump are challenging a protective order requested by prosecutors in his election interference case. The legal team argues that only “genuinely sensitive” material should be withheld from public view. In a court filing on Monday night, they assert that any attempt to prohibit them from publicly discussing government-obtained material, including exculpatory documents, would violate Trump’s constitutional rights.
The attorneys emphasize the irony of the situation, stating, “In a trial about First Amendment rights, the government seeks to restrict First Amendment rights. Worse, it does so against its administration’s primary political opponent, during an election season in which the administration, prominent party members, and media allies have campaigned on the indictment and proliferated its false allegations.”
They further accuse special counsel Jack Smith, who is leading the election interference case against Trump, of using the court as a censor to impose content-based regulations on the former president. Instead, they propose a more measured approach, suggesting an amended protective order that would only shield genuinely sensitive materials, rather than all documents produced by the government, regardless of sensitivity, as proposed by the prosecution.
While the defense lawyers mention reaching a deal with prosecutors on a small number of revisions to the order, they believe that the government is unlikely to agree to their full proposal. They cite communications with Smith’s team to support their assertion. The decision on the order now rests with Judge Tanya Chutkan, who will make a ruling before the next hearing on August 28.
Last week, Trump was indicted on multiple criminal charges related to alleged interference in the 2020 election. He has entered a plea of not guilty and has criticized the case as politically motivated. Trump claims he was unfairly targeted to eliminate him as a contender in the 2024 presidential race.
In addition to the ongoing case, Trump faces two other criminal lawsuits filed earlier this year. These include numerous felony charges connected to his alleged mishandling of classified documents after leaving office and another case relating to alleged hush-money payments made to porn actress Stormy Daniels during his 2016 campaign. The former president has pleaded not guilty in those cases as well, maintaining that they are part of a witch hunt against him.
Trump expressed his frustration with the legal proceedings in a social media post on Monday, stating, “How can my corrupt political opponent put me on trial(s) during a campaign that I am winning (by a lot!).” He added that the lawsuits are diverting his time and resources away from his campaign activities to combat what he believes are baseless accusations.
The outcome of the protective order dispute will significantly impact the upcoming legal proceedings against Donald Trump. The defense team’s argument centers on protecting their client’s First Amendment rights and ensuring that only sensitive materials are withheld. Time will tell whether Judge Tanya Chutkan will side with the defense or the prosecution in this case.