Trump's daily statements threaten to prejudice jury pool in D.C. elections case, prosecutors warn

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Source: Fulton County Jail

“Daily” statements by former President Donald Trump “threaten to prejudice the jury pool” in the federal case where he is charged with crimes related to trying to reverse his loss in the 2020 election, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Prosecutors made that claim as they pushed back on a call by Trump’s lawyers to allow a three-week briefing process for Judge Tanya Chutkan to decide whether “every ordinary” court filing that refers to sensitive materials should be placed on the court’s public docket.

“Such a requirement would grind litigation in this case to a halt, which is particularly infeasible given the pressing matters before the Court — including the defendant’s daily extrajudicial statements that threaten to prejudice the jury pool in this case, as described in the Government’s motion,” prosecutors from the office of special counsel Jack Smith wrote.

The case, pending in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., is one of four criminal cases Trump is facing as he seeks the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

Trump regularly blasts the prosecutors in those cases on social media and in interviews, claiming they are pawns of President Joe Biden, and that the nearly 100 charges they filed are designed to harm his chances of defeating the Democrat in a rematch of their 2020 election contest.

The claim by prosecutors that Trump’s out-of-court statements could make it difficult to seat a fair jury in the case came as part of a squabble with his lawyers over the protocol for filing legal motions.

Earlier Tuesday, prosecutors from Smith’s office asked Chutkan to be allowed to file a motion in the case that would be sealed from public view.

The details of that motion are not known, but do contain “sensitive materials,” according to a subsequent court filing.

Trump’s lawyers later filed an emergency motion asking Chutkan to vacate the prosecutors’ motion, claiming that Smith’s office had not first asked the defense lawyers their opinion on that move, or “otherwise notify Defendant it would be filing the Motion for Leave.”

Defense lawyers also noted that Chutkan granted Smith’s motion without giving Trump the chance to respond, asking that she allow them “sufficient time to respond to every motion filed in this matter.”

Smith’s office fired back in another court filing.

Prosecutors wrote that they had in fact asked Trump’s lawyers for their position on the sealed motion and that they had informed Chutkan of that position.

The prosecutors also said the filing was consistent with the terms of a protective order previously issued by Chutkan, who told the parties to submit filings under seal if those documents include unredacted “Sensitive Materials.”

But Chutkan later issued an order granting Trump’s motion. She told defense lawyers to respond to the prosecutors’ motion to file their document under seal by Monday.

“Going forward, all motions, including motions for leave to file, must (1) indicate whether the movant has conferred with opposing counsel, and (2) state the nonmovant’s position on the motion, if known,” Chutkan wrote. “As it has done here, the court may require briefing on motions for leave to file under seal on a timeline shorter than the default periods provided for in the Local Criminal Rules”