Former President Donald Trump has accused the Department of Justice (DOJ) of being heavy-handed and weaponized by the Biden administration.
Trump asserts the DOJ has leaked information, withheld pertinent information from his legal team, and initiated investigations based on fabricated evidence.
The former president’s latest charge is that the DOJ has pressured the court to order Trump and his legal team not to speak about his prosecution.
In a 25-page brief, Trump’s legal team criticized the DOJ’s request for a gag order, arguing that such restrictions would be a violation of free speech and inhibit transparency in the case.
An excerpt from the brief reads:
The prosecution would silence President Trump, amid a political campaign where his right to criticize the government is at its zenith, all to avoid a public rebuke of this prosecution. However, above all else, the First Amendment means that government has no power to restrict expression because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter, or its content.
The prosecution may not like President Trump’s entirely valid criticisms, but neither it nor this Court are the filter for what the public may hear.
The DOJ’s brief, filed Monday, was spearheaded by Special Counsel Jack Smith. Proponents of the gag order argue that Trump’s propensity to use fiery language could impact jurors’ perceptions.
A representative from Smith’s office stated: “The defendant knows that when he publicly attacks individuals and institutions, he inspires others to perpetrate threats and harassment against his targets.”
Meanwhile, the former president continues to fight to have his name included on the ballot in several states. Multiple groups allege Trump is ineligible because he is guilty of insurrection due to his involvement in the Jan. 6, 2021, protest and breach of the Capitol.
Trump’s legal team argues his statements regarding the 2020 election are protected by the First Amendment.
Attorney Geoffrey Blue wrote in a Colorado court filing on Monday:
“At no time do Petitioners argue that President Trump did anything other than engage in either speaking or refusing to speak for their argument that he engaged in the purported insurrection.”
The former president currently enjoys a commanding lead over his GOP opponents and has decided not to share in Wednesday’s second GOP debate.
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