More Trouble for Trump as Federal Judge Makes a Firm Decision Against Him in Documents Case


U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon has scheduled a hearing for June 24 to address prosecutors’ request to modify the conditions of release for former President Donald Trump. According to a report by Epoch Times on Sunday, June 23, 2024, this case, taking place in the Southern District of Florida, involves 40 counts related to the alleged mishandling of classified documents.

Special Counsel Jack Smith has sought a gag order against Trump, arguing that the former president’s statements about law enforcement officers involved in the case pose a significant, imminent, and foreseeable danger. The prosecution wants the judge to make it clear that Trump “may not make statements that pose a significant, imminent, and foreseeable danger to law enforcement agents participating in the investigation and prosecution of this case.”

Trump, who entered a not-guilty plea during his arraignment last year, was initially released under standard conditions. These included various court appearances and a prohibition against violating any federal, state, or local laws. Additionally, Trump was ordered not to contact fact witnesses disclosed by the government.

If found to have violated his conditions of release, Trump could face arrest, detention, forfeiture of bail, and a contempt sanction resulting in imprisonment or a fine. A significant portion of the litigation in the classified documents case has been sealed due to the sensitive nature of the information involved.

However, Judge Cannon has recently ordered the unsealing of certain documents that do not contain sensitive information or their release after specific redactions. One such document was a law enforcement plan drafted prior to the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago. A line authorizing the “use of deadly force only when necessary” gained circulation on news and social media platforms.

Trump responded to the revelation on his Truth Social platform on May 21, stating that the Justice Department “AUTHORIZED THE FBI TO USE DEADLY (LETHAL) FORCE.”

He later amplified this message in an email blast, claiming, “They were authorized to shoot me!”  An FBI spokesperson clarified that the language used in the Mar-a-Lago raid plan was standard protocol. “The FBI followed standard protocol in this search as we do for all search warrants, which includes a standard policy statement limiting the use of deadly force,” the spokesperson said.

“No one ordered additional steps to be taken and there was no departure from the norm in this matter.” Following Trump’s Truth Social post, prosecutors filed their request for modified conditions of release, effectively a gag order.

They argued that Trump’s speech exposes agents “to the risk of threats, violence, and harassment,” and that he has been intentionally misleading in his messages about the agents involved in the raid, continuing his rhetoric even after the FBI’s clarification.

Prosecutors plan to call some of the FBI agents as witnesses at trial and argue that Trump “irresponsibly put a target on the backs of the FBI agents involved in this case.” They cited a 2022 planned attack on an FBI office in Ohio by a Trump supporter as an example of the potential danger posed by Trump’s rhetoric.

The court, prosecutors argued, “should take steps immediately to halt this dangerous campaign to smear law enforcement.” This marks the fourth gag order request against Trump, all of which have been based partly on the premise that the presumptive Republican nominee’s influence could lead his supporters to harass anyone he criticizes publicly.

While Supreme Court decisions on First Amendment issues typically hold that one cannot be held responsible for third parties’ actions in response to one’s speech unless it calls for imminent, lawless action, judges in multiple jurisdictions have upheld gag orders on Trump to ensure fair judicial proceedings. Trump’s attorneys have argued that prosecutors have failed to show how his speech impairs a fair proceeding, but judges have disagreed.

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