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Judge rejects gag order request in Trump classified documents case

A federal judge has denied special counsel Jack Smith's motion for a gag order against former President Donald Trump in his classified documents case, for failing to confer with defense lawyers. Pool photo by Michael M. Santiago/UPI
1 of 2 | A federal judge has denied special counsel Jack Smith's motion for a gag order against former President Donald Trump in his classified documents case, for failing to confer with defense lawyers. Pool photo by Michael M. Santiago/UPI | License Photo

May 28 (UPI) -- Federal Judge Aileen Cannon on Tuesday denied special counsel Jack Smith's motion for a gag order against Donald Trump in the former president's classified documents case, as she slammed prosecutors for failing to confer with Trump's defense lawyers.

"Because the filing of the special counsel's motion did not adhere to these basic requirements, it is due to be denied without prejudice," Cannon wrote.

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"It should go without saying that meaningful conferral is not a perfunctory exercise," she added. "Sufficient time needs to be afforded to permit reasonable evaluation of the requested relief by opposing counsel and to allow for adequate follow-up discussion."

Trump pleaded not guilty to 37 criminal counts last June related to his handling of classified documents after he left the White House. Jury selection was scheduled to begin last week, but the trial was postponed indefinitely earlier this month due to outstanding pretrial litigation.

Cannon's ruling comes after Smith's team filed a motion late Friday accusing Trump of violating his existing conditions of release after he claimed President Joe Biden and the Justice Department authorized the FBI to use "lethal force" during their 2022 search for documents at his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida.

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In a recent fundraising email, Trump claimed "DOJ was authorized to shoot me." The documents prepared before Trump's home was searched had banned the use of deadly force unless the agents faced an "imminent danger of death or serious physical injury." Smith's motion requested Trump be restricted from statements that "pose a significant, imminent and foreseeable danger to law enforcement agents."

Trump attorney Todd Blanche objected to the late Friday filing and requested a meeting Monday, saying, "a 5:30 p.m. email on the Friday before Memorial Day is not meeting and conferring in any sense of the word."

Prosecutor Jay Bratt declined Blanche's Monday meeting.

"As recently as this afternoon, Mr. Trump reposted a statement on Truth Social again making the false accusations and adding new ones," Bratt said. "Further conferral will be a fruitless exercise and does nothing to mitigate the danger your client is creating."

On Tuesday, Cannon instructed both sides to detail their conferences and include "no more than 200 words verbatim from the opposing side," as she kept the possibility of a gag order open, while warning "failure to comply with these requirements may result in sanctions."

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