The Justice Department pointed to Donald Trump’s recent comments about former White House Chief of Staff and House member Mark Meadows on Wednesday as one of the chief reasons to reinstate a gag order on the former president.
In a filing in the Washington case where Trump faces federal charges tied to his effort to overturn the 2020 election, prosecutors said a pause in the gag order already gave Trump the chance to make a slew of commentary about prosecutors and witnesses in the case, including Meadows.
Judge Tanya S. Chutkan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia had imposed the partial gag order on Trump last week because of months of statements disparaging prosecutors and potential witnesses in the case, but she paused that order temporarily while Trump contemplates an appeal.
Prosecutors with the office of special counsel John L. “Jack” Smith argued Wednesday that Chutkan should reinstate the gag order pending Trump’s appeal after he made “an attempt to influence and intimidate” Meadows.
“In the few days since the administrative stay has been in place, the defendant has returned to the very sort of targeting that the Order prohibits, including attempting to intimidate and influence foreseeable witnesses, and commenting on the substance of their testimony,” the filing states.
Trump posted Tuesday night about the possibility of Meadows’ testimony in a series of posts on his social media platform Truth Social, mentioning the possibility of Meadows lying to keep himself out of prison, and spoke about him during a press conference amid a court proceeding in New York.
“Mark Meadows NEVER told me that allegations of significant fraud (about the RIGGED Election!) were baseless. He certainly didn’t say that in his book!” Trump posted.
Trump’s statements followed an ABC News report that Meadows had accepted an immunity deal with Smith’s team and spoke with prosecutors.
Counsel for Meadows could not be immediately reached for comment.
Meadows had not previously been mentioned in the Washington case, where Trump faces four felony counts tied to his effort to overturn the 2020 election. Meadows does face two criminal charges in a separate state case in Georgia charging him for similar conduct, where he is a co-defendant alongside Trump.
Meadows has pleaded not guilty to those charges and is currently in the middle of a fight to remove the state case to federal court.
Trump has made his courtroom legal battles — four criminal cases and numerous civil suits — a key aspect of his reelection pitch. Trump has asserted that the Biden administration and an undefined number of liberal prosecutors are unable to beat him at the polls and decided to launch politically motivated prosecutions against him.
That strategy has run him into trouble in the courtroom, both in Washington with the gag order and New York where he currently faces a civil fraud trial.
During the hearing last week, Chutkan also made an issue of the fact that Trump has been subject to another gag order against speaking about court staff in that New York civil fraud trial.
As part of that proceeding Wednesday, state Judge Arthur F. Engoron ordered Trump to take the stand to testify about comments he made about a law clerk. He then fined the former president $10,000 for violating the gag order.
Smith’s team also mentioned the judge’s finding in Wednesday’s filing, pointing to the fact that it ran counter to assurances by Trump’s team at the hearing earlier this month.
In another filing Wednesday the government pointed out that Trump’s effort to assert an advice-of-counsel defense in the Washington federal case may be complicated by the fact that three attorneys connected to his effort to overturn the election results have already pleaded guilty as co-defendants in the Georgia case.