Florida U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon on Monday rejected special counsel Jack Smith’s efforts to impose another gag order against former President Donald Trump in his classified documents case. This proposed gag order aimed to specifically shield Smith’s team from public scrutiny by the former president.

During a special hearing, Judge Cannon appeared disinclined to grant Smith’s motion to restrict President Trump’s ability to publicly criticize law enforcement officials or agencies like the FBI, which raided Mar-a-Lago in August 2022 in search of the documents at the center of the case. Smith argued in a filing that President Trump’s rhetoric is dangerous, inflammatory, and invites violence against officers, according to the Washington Post. Cannon did not immediately rule on the motion, which would have added another condition to Trump’s bail. Instead, she is likely to postpone a decision past Thursday’s presidential debate, allowing Trump a national platform to air his grievances.

Smith’s recommendation followed a Truth Social post by Trump, claiming that FBI agents were authorized or hoping to use deadly force during their raid on Mar-a-Lago. This revelation came to light after Judge Cannon ordered the removal of redactions from much of Smith’s documented evidence. Smith and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, who authorized the raid, stated that the deadly force provision is standard in all FBI raids and that Mar-a-Lago was no exception. In his post, Trump asserted that President Joe Biden “AUTHORIZED THE FBI TO USE DEADLY (LETHAL) FORCE. NOW WE KNOW FOR SURE, THAT JOE BIDEN IS A SERIOUS THREAT TO DEMOCRACY.”

President Trump has already faced two gag orders in his other cases. In his Manhattan hush money trial, Trump was fined $9,000 for violating a gag order that restricted his ability to criticize court officials and the judge’s daughter, who is a Democratic political operative connected to Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris. Similarly, the Obama-appointed judge in Trump’s federal January 6th case imposed a gag order to prevent any witness tampering, ruling that Trump’s words do not need to pose a “clear and present danger” to be restricted.

While Smith’s latest motion doesn’t technically qualify as a gag order, the Washington Post reports that it could function similarly. Most notably, it provides avenues for the former president to be imprisoned more swiftly.

On Monday, Prosecutor David Harbach struggled to articulate why he believed certain actions would be “dangerous” to the investigators. At one point, Judge Cannon expressed frustration after Harbach claimed he wasn’t being permitted to fully explain his reasoning. “Mr. Harbach, I don’t appreciate your tone,” Cannon remarked, as reported by the Washington Post, emphasizing her expectation of decorum “at all times. If you are unable to do that, I’m sure one of your colleagues can.” Harbach would go on to apologize to Cannon.

After the prosecutor argued that Trump’s words “are nowhere close to the line” of protected free speech, Judge Cannon suggested that imposing a new restriction on Trump’s bail was unnecessary, noting that she had already agreed with prosecutors to redact the names of FBI witnesses. Harbach countered that some witnesses’ names are already publicly available on the internet and warned against waiting for something unfortunate to happen to one of them. Trump’s attorney, Todd Blanche, rebutted the accusation, asserting that his client could not incite such violence.

“Of course, President Trump has absolutely no desire for anything bad to happen to law enforcement,” Blanche said. “It is a critique of President Biden and his Justice Department and it is completely fair and protected political speech.”

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