“Naked effort to impose totalitarian censorship of core political speech:” Jack Smith under fire


Jacksonville, Florida – The trial in the Florida classified documents case, where the former President Donald Trump is facing 41 charges, is unlikely to start before the November general election. The federal case against Trump is overseen by Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, who is blamed to be biased for ordinarily ruling in favor of the defense in what many see an ultimate goal of dismissing the whole case. More than two weeks after Trump’s conviction in New York City, the case in Florida has once again captured the spotlight.

Recent ruling

Trump’s attorneys requested the court to dismiss counts 33 to 41, which deal with obstruction and making false statements, arguing that these charges were flawed due to duplicity. Judge Cannon, however, rejected this request on Monday, stating that any defects in the charges could legally be overlooked. She emphasized that these counts would not pose a problem as long as the jury is properly instructed and the verdict forms clearly specify the actions of each defendant involved.

Additionally, Judge Cannon agreed to remove a specific paragraph from the lengthy 60-page indictment. Trump’s legal team argued that this paragraph was unfair because it included allegations that were not formally charged in the indictment. This removed section described an event from August or September 2021, after Trump had left the presidency, involving a meeting at his New Jersey club office with a representative from his political action committee.

A request for gag order

Special counsel Jack Smith and his team have requested Judge Cannon to place a gag order on Trump to prevent him from speaking publicly about the case. The judge initially rejected this request, but soon after, the prosecutors submitted a second motion. This action led to a strong reaction from Trump’s legal team.

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Trump’s lawyers, defending him in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case, strongly criticized Jack Smith on Friday. They argued that the gag order he is pushing for, which would stop the former president from making public comments that could potentially threaten the safety of law enforcement personnel involved in the case, is unconstitutional. They claim it is also designed to benefit Joe Biden’s reelection campaign.

“In Jack Smith’s most recent shocking display of overreach and disregard for the Constitution, the Special Counsel’s Office asks the Court to enter an unconstitutional gag order as one of the release conditions on the leading candidate in the 2024 presidential election,” the opposition motion states. “[T]he motion is a naked effort to impose totalitarian censorship of core political speech, under threat of incarceration, in a clear attempt to silence President Donald Trump’s arguments to the American people about the outrageous nature of this investigation and prosecution.”

Smith and his team have requested Judge Cannon to place a gag order on Trump to prevent him from speaking publicly about the Florida case
Former President Donald Trump, Courtesy of Leading Report X (@LeadingReport)

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About the gag order

Last month, the special counsel requested a gag order following Trump’s post on Truth Social. Trump inaccurately claimed that the FBI had authorized “deadly (lethal) force” and was ready to shoot him during their raid at his Palm Beach home. This statement misinterpreted language from a court order that was part of standard FBI procedure to restrict agent’s use of force. Federal officials later clarified that this same policy was also applied during the search of President Biden’s home in Delaware.

Read also: New York City guilty verdict could backfire for Biden: Trump hopes to score stunning win before elections

In response, the special counsel’s office asked Judge Aileen Cannon, who was appointed by Trump, to explicitly prevent Trump from making further statements that could endanger law enforcement officers involved in the case.

Trump’s lawyers opposed the gag order, calling it “vague” and excessively restrictive, especially with the Republican National Convention and the first Presidential Debate approaching. They likened it to another gag order in a separate New York case where Trump was convicted of 34 felonies.

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Judge Cannon rejected the initial gag order request, stating that the communication between Smith’s team and Trump’s lawyers was not sufficient.

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