Prosecutors with the office of Special Counsel Jack Smith have asked US District Judge Tanya Chutkan to lift a temporary stay on the partial gag order she placed on former president Donald Trump earlier this month, citing his attacks on witnesses in the days since she halted her prior ruling to allow the ex-president to appeal.
In a 32-page filing submitted to the court late on Wednesday evening, assistant special counsels Molly Gaston and Thomas Windom argued that Mr Trump had taken advantage of the reprieve Judge Chutkan had granted him to attack at least one potential witness against him, his ex-chief of staff Mark Meadows.
They described Mr Trump as an imminent danger to the integrity of the justice system who has no qualms about placing perceived adversaries in danger.
“The defendant has returned to the very sort of targeting that the Order prohibits, including attempting to intimidate and influence foreseeable witnesses, and commenting on the substance of their testimony,” they wrote.
The prosecutors also argued that Mr Trump’s danger to witnesses stems from his awareness that his followers are eager to carry out his wishes, including by perpetuating violence against anyone he targets in his public statements. They described Mr Trump as someone who knowingly incites his fans while keeping his fingerprints off the violence that ensues after he does.
“He well knows that, by publicly targeting perceived adversaries with inflammatory language, he can maintain a plausible deniability while ensuring the desired results,” they wrote. “The defendant knows the effect of his targeting and seeks to use it to his strategic advantage while simultaneously disclaiming any responsibility for the very acts he causes”.
The Special Counsel’s filing came less than a day after reports emerged that Mr Meadows, his final White House chief of staff, gave evidence about him before a federal grand jury under immunity.
The Independent reported that Mr Meadows had reached an immunity deal in June, shortly before Mr Trump was indicted by a South Florida federal grand jury.
In a post on his Truth Social platform referencing Mr Meadows, Mr Trump wrote that only “weaklings” or “cowards” would make deals with prosecutors to give evidence against him.
“I don’t think Mark Meadows is one of them, but who really knows?” he added.
In their court filing, Ms Gaston and Mr Windom called that missive “an unmistakable and threatening message to a foreseeable witness in this case”.