downfall of democracy
Make America Greive Again
While I plod on in my own disgruntled way, out situation is made clear by the Dean:
Jack Smith is Warning us that Trump and MAGA are a Violent Threat—Please listen to Him
Smith's bone-chilling motion
READ IN APP
It’s one thing for you and me to raise red flags about the threats posed by Donald Trump and his fascist movement, MAGA. But it’s bone-chilling to see those warnings detailed in a motion filed by Special Counsel Jack Smith’s offices seeking a gag order against Trump to protect witnesses and jurors from Trump inspired MAGA violence. Yet, this is where we are as a nation thanks to Trump.
As a reminder, in early September, Smith’s offices warned the court that Trump’s “daily extrajudicial statements…threaten to prejudice the jury pool.” While those concerns are still a part of the current motion seeking a gag order, the focus of the Special Counsel now is more about the threat of violence posed by Trump.
Indeed, Smith’s new motion bluntly states: “The defendant [Trump] knows that when he publicly attacks individuals and institutions, he inspires others to perpetrate threats and harassment against his targets.”
This fact is indisputable. As we’ve all witnessed firsthand, Trump learned during his 2016 campaign that his attacks upon people or media outlets will animate MAGA to threaten and harass those same targets—if not commit actual violence. Examples range from violence at his campaign rallies directed against hecklers to the MAGA bomber to the deadly attack on the FBI field office after Trump’s Mar-a-Lago was searched to of course the Jan 6 attack itself that Trump incited to prevent Congress from certifying President’s Biden victory.
The Special Counsel’s motion then provides examples of Trump knowingly doubling down on public attacks despite reports of violence directed at his targets. For example, the motion noted that, “On December 1, 2020, as the defendant was fueling an intense national atmosphere of mistrust and anger regarding the election, a Georgia election official held a widely televised press conference in which he pleaded with the defendant to stop, stating that if he did not, “Someone’s going to get hurt, someone’s going to get shot, someone’s going to get killed.”
Did Trump stop his personal attacks against the election officials in response to that desperate plea? As Smith’s motion reminds us: Trump “did not stop. Instead, he continued—even to the present—to attack individuals whom he knows already suffered threats and harassment as a result of his words.”
In a particularly jarring passage, Smith’s team writes about Trump: “The defendant continues these attacks on individuals precisely because he knows that in doing so, he is able to roil the public and marshal and prompt his supporters,” adding, “As he acknowledged in a televised town hall on May 10, 2023, his supporters listen to him “like no one else.”
The Special counsel then turns to Trump’s conduct since this case began charging him with four felonies in connection with his illegal efforts to overturn the 2020 election. The government states that Trump "made clear his intent to issue public attacks related to this case when, the day after his arraignment, he posted a threatening message on Truth Social."
The motion cites as an example Trump's Aug. 4 post: "IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I'M COMING AFTER YOU!"
And as Smith’s office details, Trump "has made good on his threat," spreading "disparaging and inflammatory public posts on Truth Social on a near-daily basis regarding the citizens of the District of Columbia, the Court, prosecutors, and prospective witnesses.”
In response to Trumps’ attacks, as the pleadings document, there has been a tsunami of threats directed against all involved including the presiding Judge, Tanya Chutkan. For example, the motion highlights that after Trump’s attacks on Judge Chutkan calling her “a fraud dressed up as a judge" and "a radical Obama hack,” an individual was “arrested because she called the Court’s chambers and made racist death threats to the Court that were tied to the Court’s role in presiding over the defendant’s case.”
In addition, the motion explains that the Special Counsel’s office “has been subject to multiple threats, and the specific Special Counsel’s Office prosecutor that the defendant has targeted through recent, inflammatory public posts has been subject to intimidating communications.”
In other words, Trump’s followers are doing exactly what Trump knew and wanted them to do.
After laying out that history, the government turns to the crux of their concerns going forward, namely Trump will intimidate witnesses and jurors because they will fear retribution by violent elements of MAGA.
The motion lays out examples of Trump’s attacks on potential witnesses like his former Attorney General, Bill Barr. And very importantly, the motion flags well-founded concerns about the specter of Trump incited violence that could influence potential jurors. Smith’s offices write, “The defendant’s repeated, inflammatory public statements…are substantially likely to materially prejudice the jury pool, create fear among potential jurors, and result in threats or harassment to individuals he singles out.”
To drive that point home, Smith’s team added, “Put simply, those involved in the criminal justice process who read and hear the defendant’s disparaging and inflammatory messages (from court personnel, to prosecutors, to witnesses, to potential jurors) may reasonably fear that they could be the next targets of the defendant’s attacks.”
Although not mentioned in the motion, we saw an example of this just last month play out in Georgia after the names and addresses of the grand jurors who were part of the panel that indicted Trump for 13 felonies was made public as is the practice under Georgia law. The result was a barrage of threats against these grand jurors that resulted in an investigation by local authorities.
Beyond violence, the Special Counsel’s office flags concerns that Trump words and posts are his effort to unfairly influence potential jurors who may hear his attacks on the system. (From my point of view, it’s impossible to allow a Trump supporter to be on the jury given how Trump has made undermining these cases a testament of faith in MAGA world.)
This is why the government is seeking “a narrow, well-defined restriction that is targeted at extrajudicial statements that present a serious and substantial danger of materially prejudicing this case.” As laid out in the motion, “The Government’s proposed order specifies that such statements would include (a) statements regarding the identity, testimony, or credibility of prospective witnesses; and (b) statements about any party, witness, attorney, court personnel, or potential jurors that are disparaging and inflammatory, or intimidating.”
However, Smith’s team is not seeking to “prohibit quotation or reference to public court records of the case or the defendant’s proclamations of innocence.” That means Trump can repeat as much he wants that he’s innocent or discuss public court records, such as motions filed, scheduling orders, judge’s decision on issues, etc.
The limited focus of the proposed gag order is designed to do one thing: protect the witnesses, jurors, the judge and prosecutors from violence by supporters of Trump. This is something you would expect to see in a case involving a terrorist leader or a violent drug king pin. Instead, these safeguards are needed because the person the GOP base overwhelmingly wants as their 2024 presidential nominee is that great of a threat. This again is yet another reminder of the danger posed by Trump and his fascist movement MAGA to our Republic.