Federal Judge Slams DOJ Prosecutors Targeting Trump

Federal Judge Slams DOJ Prosecutors Targeting Trump

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon sharply criticized a prosecutor from special counsel Jack Smith’s team on Monday during a hearing where the Department of Justice sought to restrict former President Donald Trump’s speech.

Cannon, who is presiding over Trump’s trial in federal court in Florida regarding allegations of mishandling classified documents, responded to the prosecution’s request for a gag order on Trump, according to Fox News.

During the hearing, Cannon reprimanded prosecutor David Harbach, remarking at one point that he was being “snippy.”

“I don’t appreciate your tone,” Cannon told Harbach, as reported by CNN.

She insisted on maintaining decorum, stating, “I would appreciate decorum at all times.”

She further added, “If you aren’t able to do that, I’m sure one of your colleagues can take up arguing this motion.”

CNN noted that Harbach later apologized to the judge, though it did not specify what Harbach had said to provoke Cannon's reaction.

Cannon emphasized that the prosecution needed to directly link Trump’s statements to any incitement of violence.

She noted that the law under which the gag order was being sought “still requires a finding” that a defendant’s speech poses a risk.

“There still needs to be a factual connection between A and B,” Cannon said.

Trump’s defense attorney, Todd Blanche, argued that Trump had not made any threats against FBI agents.

“The attacks, very clearly, are against President Biden,” Blanche said regarding Trump’s contested communications.

Blanche added, “Of course, President Trump has absolutely no desire for anything bad to happen to law enforcement,” referencing a Trump post on his Truth Social platform where he claimed the Justice Department “AUTHORIZED THE FBI TO USE DEADLY (LETHAL) FORCE. NOW WE KNOW FOR SURE, THAT JOE BIDEN IS A SERIOUS THREAT TO DEMOCRACY,” as reported by The Washington Post.

Blanche maintained, “It is a critique of President Biden and his Justice Department and it is completely fair and protected political speech.”

Harbach countered, asserting that Trump’s comments were “way out of bounds” and “nothing like speech that should be protected by the First Amendment,” according to CNN.

Blanche argued that the prosecutors were being overly vague in their allegations, suggesting they aimed to penalize Trump for comments made by others.

“Steve Bannon making a comment is potentially the kind of thing that could send President Trump to jail,” Blanche stated.

Additionally, during the hearing, defense attorney Emil Bove contended that the special counsel’s office was funded by an unconstitutional “permanent indefinite appropriation” not subject to the budget process, as reported by ABC.

“Is there any cap to the funding?” Cannon inquired.

“No, and I think that is part of the reason … to be very wary of who can access it and why,” Bove responded. “There is no check on the scope of what’s going on here.”

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