In a recent legal maneuver, Special Counsel Jack Smith submitted a motion to the district court aiming to restrict the narrative that former President Donald Trump’s defense team can present to the jury in his upcoming federal trial, set for March.
The motion, lodged on Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, seeks to curtail Trump’s ability to make certain statements during his trial on charges related to alleged interference in the 2020 election.
Specifically, the motion requests to bar Trump from claiming that the Department of Justice, under President Biden’s influence, is persecuting him. It also aims to prevent Trump from suggesting that undercover agents incited violence during the Capitol riots and from making claims about foreign meddling in the 2020 election.
Smith’s team, in their submission to U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, argued that the defense is attempting to introduce partisan attacks and irrelevant topics into the trial. They emphasized the importance of keeping the jury focused on factual evidence and legal arguments, rather than political discourse. The motion asserts that Trump’s attempts to challenge the integrity of the investigation with baseless allegations should be disallowed to maintain the trial’s focus on facts and law, rather than politics.
The motion also seeks to prevent Trump from discussing potential penalties he faces if convicted and from attributing the January 6 Capitol riot to a lack of preparedness by law enforcement agencies. Smith’s team dismissed the relevancy of evidence about undercover actors in the context of the riot.
Fox News Digital reached out to Trump’s campaign for a response but did not receive an immediate reply.
This motion to limit Trump’s defense arguments is part of the prosecution’s strategy to define what information is relevant for the jury’s consideration. This comes as the case is in a standstill during an appeal regarding Trump’s claim of immunity for actions taken while in office. The motion likens Trump’s defense strategies to implausible arguments used by defendants in other criminal cases.
The Supreme Court recently declined to intervene in this immunity dispute, but a federal appeals panel is scheduled to hear arguments on January 9. The trial is currently set for March 4 in Washington, D.C., but may be delayed due to ongoing appeals.
Judge Chutkan had previously imposed a partial gag order on Trump, limiting his ability to make statements about Smith, his team, potential witnesses, and court staff. However, Trump retains the right to broadly criticize the Justice Department and express his views on the political motivations behind his case. Following an Appeals Court ruling upholding key aspects of this gag order, Trump expressed his dismay on Truth Social, questioning the implications for the First Amendment and his ability to respond to criticisms.
Trump has pleaded not guilty to all four federal charges stemming from Smith’s investigation into the 2020 election interference and the Capitol riot.
Additionally, a similar gag order was issued in the New York Trump Organization trial, aimed at preventing verbal attacks against court staff. This order faced a temporary appeals court stay but was later reinstated.
Trump’s comments on Truth Social, including Christmas wishes and criticisms of the investigation and Special Counsel Smith, illustrate his ongoing public commentary on the legal proceedings he faces.