Prosecutors to seek limit on Trump's 'inflammatory' FBI claims

Prosecutors will ask a judge on Monday to rein in Donald Trump's "inflammatory" statements about law enforcement agents working on the criminal case accusing him of mishandling classified documents.

Prosecutors will ask a judge on Monday to rein in Donald Trump's "inflammatory" statements about law enforcement agents working on the criminal case accusing him of mishandling classified documents. (Brendan McDermid, Reuters)


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FORT PIERCE, Florida — Prosecutors will ask a judge on Monday to rein in Donald Trump's "inflammatory" statements about law enforcement agents working on the criminal case accusing the former president of mishandling classified documents.

The request by Special Counsel Jack Smith, who is leading the prosecution, comes after Trump falsely claimed that a routine FBI use-of-force policy in effect during a 2022 search of his Florida resort authorized agents to attempt an assassination.

Prosecutors called the claim "deceptive and inflammatory" in a court filing and said it subjected agents to "unjustified and unacceptable risks."

Smith has asked the presiding judge, Aileen Cannon, to bar Trump, the Republican candidate in the Nov. 5 election, from making statements that pose a threat to law enforcement while awaiting trial.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to charges he illegally held onto sensitive national security papers after leaving office in 2021 as well as obstructing government efforts to retrieve them. The criminal case is one of four Trump faces as he seeks to unseat Democratic President Joe Biden.

Trump's lawyers have urged Cannon, whom Trump nominated to the bench, to reject Smith's request, saying it would violate Trump's free speech rights in the heat of the presidential campaign. They also argued that prosecutors had not presented evidence of threats against the FBI.

Cannon previously denied the request on procedural grounds after she found that prosecutors had not adequately consulted with Trump's lawyers before filing it.

Trump faces gag orders limiting his public statements in another federal case, also overseen by Smith, accusing him of attempting to overturn his defeat in the 2020 election, and a case in New York that led to his conviction in May for falsifying business records.

Trump has verbally attacked prosecutors, judges and witnesses in legal cases against him, contending that the U.S. justice system is being used to undermine his campaign.

Trump's criticism over the FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago social club intensified last month after the FBI's use-of-force policy was made public as part of a tranche of records related to the FBI operation.

The policy stipulated that the FBI could not use lethal force unless an agent or other person was at serious risk of death or serious injury. Trump was not present at the club at the time of the search.

Trump's baseless claim about an attempted assassination was included in campaign fundraising emails and was echoed by his allies in Congress.

Also on Monday, Trump's lawyers are set to continue their legal challenge to Smith's investigation by arguing that it is being unlawfully funded.

Trump's legal team on Friday urged Cannon to toss out the charges based on an argument that Smith was unlawfully appointed. His lawyer argued that Smith did not have the authority to operate with a large amount of independence without approval from Congress.

The focus on Smith's independence marked a sharp departure from Trump's repeated claims that the special counsel probe is part of a coordinated effort by the Biden administration to weaken his chief political opponent.

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Andrew Goudsward

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