Former President Donald Trump’s lawyers submitted a new court filing asking that he not be muzzled in his upcoming criminal case by the district attorney in Manhattan.
His legal team requested that the judge in the case not agree with the DA’s proposal to prohibit Trump from talking about witnesses and evidence in the case against him, saying it’s “extremely restrictive” and could end up affecting his upcoming campaign for president unfairly.
The attorneys heavily criticized the protective order that the Manhattan DA’s office has proposed. The order would essentially prevent Trump from discussing some of the case’s evidence publicly.
In a filing sent to Juan Merchan, the state judge in New York who is overseeing the criminal case, Trump’s lawyers Todd Blanche, Joe Tacopina and Susan Necheles wrote:
“The People have proposed what would be an unprecedented and extraordinarily broad muzzle on a leading contender for the presidency of the United States. The People’s Proposed Protective Order infringes upon President Trump’s First Amendment right to freely discuss his own character and qualifications for federal office and the First Amendment rights of the American people to hear President Trump’s side of the story.”
Prosecutors in the case last week filed a motion that seeks to ban Trump from disclosing certain evidence publicly that will eventually be handed over to his legal team as they prepare his defense for the trial, which is tentatively scheduled to be held next year.
Catherine McCaw, the assistant district attorney, filed the motion and argued that “safeguards that will protect the integrity of the materials” are essential in this case because the “risk” that the former president would ultimately use them “inappropriately is substantial.”
Because of this, she requested that the judge ensure that his defense team could only use materials they gained through discovery for purposes at trial. She also requested that Trump only be allowed to see that evidence while his lawyers were present.
In trying to back up her reasons that the protective order is necessary, McCaw said that Trump has a poor record of criticizing witnesses, court officials and investigations who are involved in the various probes into him.
As she wrote in the request:
“Donald J. Trump has a longstanding and perhaps singular history of attacking witnesses, investigators, prosecutors, trial jurors, grand jurors, judges and others involved in the legal proceedings against him, putting those individuals and their families at considerable safety risk.”
McCaw provided the example of Michael Cohen, Trump’s one-time personal attorney who’s expected to be a central witness in the case that the DA is presenting. Trump has attacked Cohen multiple times in the past, once the attorney turned against his former client.
She also pointed to the fact that Trump has disparaged Stormy Daniels, the former adult film star who received hush-money payments from Cohen – which are a focal point of this case.
Yet, Trump’s lawyers fired back, saying that Daniels and Cohen have both publicly criticized Trump for many years, and have discussed evidence that will be used at trial publicly as well.