Judge Cannon threatens to sanction Jack Smith, rejects gag order request

 May 28, 2024

The judge in Donald Trump's classified documents case threatened to sanction prosecutor Jack Smith over a lack of professionalism after he requested a gag order without conferring with Trump's lawyers. 

The requested gag order was rejected by judge Aileen Cannon in a blistering ruling Tuesday that criticized Smith's conduct.

“[T]he Court finds the Special Counsel’s pro forma ‘conferral’ to be wholly lacking in substance and professional courtesy,” Cannon wrote. “It should go without saying that meaningful conferral is not a perfunctory exercise."

Trump judge gives warning

In a late Friday motion, Smith's team asked Cannon to change Trump's release conditions to limit what he can say about the Justice Department after he accused the DOJ of authorizing his assassination.

Smith's team filed the motion at 5:30 p.m. on Friday before the Memorial Day weekend. Trump's team cried foul over the timing and asked Cannon to hold Smith in contempt.

“Under no circumstances can an email exchange initiated at 5:30 p.m. on a Friday evening constitute the type of conferral required by Local Rule 88.9,” they wrote.

Cannon did not satisfy Trump's request for sanctions, but neither did she grant Smith's demand to gag Trump. She warned Smith to observe court norms going forward.

"Any future, non-emergency motion brought in this case—whether on the topic of release conditions or anything else—shall not be filed absent meaningful, timely, and professional conferral," she warned.

"Failure to comply with these requirements may result in sanctions," she added.

Smith tries to gag Trump

Trump last week claimed that FBI agents were "locked and loaded" to kill him, citing language about deadly force in the search warrant for the August 2022 raid of Mar-A-Lago.

Smith dismissed Trump's claim as misleading and inflammatory, and asked for a gag order blocking Trump from making any statements that place law enforcement agents in danger.

Trump's lawyers called the alleged threats "vague and unsupported" in their response Monday and asked Cannon to reject Smith's "unconstitutional" request.

“The Motion is an extraordinary, unprecedented, and unconstitutional censorship application,” they said. “The Motion unjustly targets President Trump’s campaign speech while he is the leading candidate for the presidency.”

Cannon's ruling is the latest setback for Smith, who is struggling to bring Trump to trial before the presidential election. Cannon has postponed the trial indefinitely over unresolved pre-trial issues.

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