As Donald Trump made more threats against opponents in the wake of a third indictment, special counsel Jack Smith asked a judge late Friday for a protective order against the ex-president, seeking to prevent him from publicizing evidence from witnesses.
“All the proposed order seeks to prevent is the improper dissemination or use of discovery materials, including to the public,” Smith said in a late-night court motion, essentially arguing that Trump’s rantings could have a chilling effect on witnesses in the case. The prosecutor cited an all-caps threat that Trump posted earlier in the day on Truth Social: “IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU.”
Smith’s motion capped a day in which an unrepentant Trump went to the southern regions of the nation with an adjusted strategy designed to turn his three indictments into political weapons, including frequent threats to his opponents.
“I will totally obliterate the deep state,” Trump said at the Alabama Republican Party dinner on Friday evening in Montgomery, Ala., a day after he pleaded innocent to charges of trying to steal the 2020 election.
Legal analysts had said Trump’s threats – including personal attacks on Smith, who is in charge of two of Trump’s cases – could be used against him in court.
“This is the kind of thing that DOJ alerts the court to with respect to any defendant out on bail,” former federal prosecutor Andrew Weissmann said on the X social media platform.
A third indictment of Trump
In his Alabama speech, Trump updated familiar complaints to accommodate his third indictment, this one involving allegedly illegal pts to hold onto power after President Joe Biden’s triumph.
A fourth case could be coming soon; prosecutors in Atlanta are deciding whether to charge Trump for efforts to overturn his 2020 loss in the state of Georgia. Trump’s first indictment came in New York state court over a hush money case.
A second set of charges in federal court in Florida charged Trump with obstruction of justice and improper possession of classified documents – a case in which Smith obtained a protective order against Trump.
‘We need one more indictment’
During his remarks in Alabama, Trump again blamed Biden for his travails and said if he wins the White House again he will seek the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate him. He also taunted his political and legal opponents by saying his polls go up after every indictment. “We need one more indictment to close out this election,” Trump told his Alabama supporters. Trump travels back south on Saturday, speaking at a dinner sponsored by the South Carolina Republican Party.
Trump’s big lead
The former president has indeed increased his lead over Republican rivals despite his legal problems.
At the start of the week, a New York Times/Siena College poll gave Trump a massive lead of 54%-17% over his nearest competitor, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
On Friday, that same poll showed a somewhat closer race in Iowa, which opens the GOP nominating contest with caucuses on Jan. 15. Trump’s lead in the Hawkeye State is 44%-20%, according to the New York Times/Siena survey.
Source: USA Today