A federal judge has warned former US President Donald Trump against making “inflammatory” statements which could taint the jury pool ahead of his trial for conspiring to overturn the result of the 2020 election.
But Judge Tanya Chutkan ruled that Trump can publicly share some of the non-sensitive evidence which prosecutors disclose to his legal team.
Friday’s ruling was a blow to the special counsel who had expressed concern Trump might reveal secret material and intimidate witnesses.
At a 90-minute hearing in Washington DC, the judge said the historic case was proceeding as normal.
“He is a criminal defendant. He is going to have restrictions like every single other defendant,” she said.
“The fact that the defendant is engaged in a political campaign is not going to allow him any greater or lesser latitude than any defendant in a criminal case.”
What Trump can reveal publicly is one of several battles being fought between the former president’s legal team and federal prosecutors.
Requests for protective orders are fairly routine in criminal cases. In many cases, defence teams are reluctant to oppose the orders because doing so would slow down “discovery” – the process in which prosecutors hand over evidence.
In this case, however, Trump and his lawyers argued that his free speech was being stifled and argued that only sensitive information should be kept under wraps.
Judge Chutkan agreed. However, she said that his First Amendment rights was “not absolute” amid the ongoing case – and warned that she would not allow a “carnival atmosphere” at his eventual trial.
The former president is already subject to a protective order in a separate upcoming New York case about alleged hush money payments to former adult film actress Stormy Daniels. (RNZ)