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Prosecutors ask judge in classified documents case to block Trump from statements endangering law enforcement

Former President Donald Trump looks on before the start of trial at the Manhattan Criminal Court during trial in New York City May 20, 2024. 

Mark Peterson | Via Reuters

Prosecutors in Donald Trump’s classified documents case in Florida asked a federal judge on Friday to block the former president from making public statements that pose “a significant, imminent, and foreseeable danger to law enforcement agents” investigating and prosecuting the case.

The request to U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, who is overseeing the case, comes after the former president this week falsely claimed in a Truth Social post that the Biden administration “AUTHORIZED THE FBI TO USE DEADLY (LETHAL) FORCE” in its 2022 search of Mar-a-Lago for classified documents. The Trump campaign also claimed in a fundraising email that President Joe Biden was “locked & loaded ready to take me out” during a search of his Mar-a-Lago property for classified documents.

Prosecutors in special counsel Jack Smith’s office said in their court filing that agents acted “in an appropriate and professional manner, subject to the Department of Justice’s standard use-of-force policy” and argued that Trump’s claims posed a threat to law enforcement agents.

“Trump’s repeated mischaracterization of these facts in widely distributed messages as an attempt to kill him, his family, and Secret Service agents has endangered law enforcement officers involved in the investigation and prosecution of this case and threatened the integrity of these proceedings,” prosecutors wrote. “A restriction prohibiting future similar statements should therefore be modified to prohibit similar communications going forward.”

In making the allegations, Trump and his campaign appeared to be citing recently unsealed court filings related to the 2022 search. The filings showed the judge overseeing the case at the time questioned how the former president could not have noticed that he had highly sensitive documents in his bedroom.

Trump was in New Jersey when the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago, his home in Palm Beach, Florida.

“As Trump is well aware,” prosecutors noted in Friday’s filing, the FBI “took extraordinary care to execute the search warrant unobtrusively and without needless confrontation,” and scheduled the search for a time when the former president and his family would be away.

Prosecutors said that Trump’s attorneys objected to their motion, as well as its timing.

Prosecutors’ request is for modification of Trump’s conditions of release, which is different from a gag order.

When the former president was indicted, the bond ensured that his continued release was dependent on his compliance with certain terms.

In making the request, prosecutors are asking for Trump to face higher stakes if he makes statements that the court finds endangers law enforcement.

Attorneys for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday night, but a campaign spokesperson said in an email that “Crooked Joe Biden and his Hacks and Thugs are obsessed with trying to deprive President Trump and all American voters of their First Amendment rights.”

“Repeated attempts to silence President Trump during the presidential campaign are blatant attempts to interfere in the election,” campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung wrote. “They are last ditch efforts of desperate Democrat Radicals running a losing campaign for a failed president.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday rejected Trump’s claim about the authorized use of deadly force during the search, calling the allegation “false” and “extremely dangerous,” during a news conference.

In a rare statement days earlier, after Trump’s initial claims, the FBI also said that it had “followed standard protocol in this search as we do for all search warrants” and that no additional steps had been ordered for Mar-a-Lago.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to charges that he willfully retained national defense information in connection with classified documents that were uncovered at his Florida estate after he left office and that he ordered a Mar-a-Lago staffer to delete security video at the property. The trial has been indefinitely postponed.

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