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Special counsel prosecuting Trump flouting ‘basic requirements’


President Donald J. Trump participates in the pre-recorded National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony Monday, Nov. 30, 2020, on the Blue Room Balcony of the White House. (Official White House photo by Tia Dufour)

By Katelynn Richardson

The judge overseeing former President Donald Trump’s classified documents case rejected on Tuesday special counsel Jack Smith’s request to impose a gag order, admonishing his team for their failure to “meaningful[ly] confer” with the defense.

Trump’s attorneys aired their frustration Monday night with prosecutors’ decision to file the motion before the Memorial Day weekend without first conferring about the matter, asking Cannon to impose sanctions for prosecutors’ “bad-faith” decision to rush an “extraordinary, unprecedented, and unconstitutional censorship application.” Judge Aileen Cannon declined to impose sanctions but warned prosecutors in her sharply worded order that she may impose them in the future if they fail again to comply with “basic requirements,” writing that motions should not be filed “absent meaningful, timely, and professional conferral.”

“It should go without saying that meaningful conferral is not a perfunctory exercise,” Cannon wrote. “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 as necessary about the specific factual and legal basis underlying the motion.”

“This is so even when a party ‘assume[s]’ the opposing party will oppose the proposed motion [583-1], and it applies with additional force when the relief sought — at issue for the first time in this proceeding and raised in a procedurally distinct manner than in cited cases — implicates substantive and/or Constitutional questions,” Cannon continued.

Smith’s team asked the judge on Friday to amend Trump’s conditions of release to clarify that he cannot “make statements that pose a significant, imminent, and foreseeable danger to law enforcement agents participating in the investigation and prosecution of this case.”

The request came after Trump’s Truth Social post referencing reports that the FBI authorized the use of “deadly” force for its raid on Mar-a-Lago. The FBI denied the claim after it began circulating in the media, noting that the statement was “standard protocol.”

Trump’s attorneys wrote in their filing that the special counsel’s office “declined” their offer to discuss the motion on Memorial Day — an offer his attorneys made despite the fact that they were also preparing for closing arguments in Trump’s Manhattan trial — and instead decided to rush to file the motion on Friday night.

“The decision by the Special Counsel’s Office to do so, when it did so, cannot be explained in a manner that is consistent with the need for prosecutorial ethics and public confidence in these proceedings,” Trump’s attorneys wrote Monday night, adding that “the bias and animus that are evident from the Office’s recent course of action are relevant to the pending motions to dismiss based on selective and vindictive prosecution as well as prosecutorial misconduct.”

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