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Prosecutors call for restraining order after Trump’s defiant post

Prosecutors flagged a threatening social media post from Donald Trump in a late-night court filing on Friday, arguing that it suggests the former US president might intimidate witnesses by improperly disclosing confidential evidence received from the government.

On his Truth Social site, Trump wrote: “If you go after me, I’m coming after you!” on Friday afternoon, a day after he pleaded not guilty to charges that he orchestrated a criminal conspiracy to try to reverse his 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden.

In Georgia, where other prosecutors are investigating Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results in that state, security was tightened around a courthouse in Atlanta as the city prepares for the possible announcement of what would be Trump’s fourth criminal indictment this year.

In the filing in Washington federal court, the office of special counsel Jack Smith said Trump’s social media post raised concerns that he might publicly reveal secret material, such as grand jury transcripts, obtained from prosecutors.

It sought a protective order prohibiting Trump and his lawyers from sharing any discovery materials with unauthorised people.

On Saturday, district judge Tanya Chutkan gave Trump until Monday evening to respond.

Under the process known as discovery, prosecutors are required to provide defendants with the evidence against them so they can prepare their defence.

“It could have a harmful chilling effect on witnesses or adversely affect the fair administration of justice in this case,” prosecutors wrote in their filing, noting Trump has a history of attacking judges, attorneys and witnesses in other cases against him.

At his arraignment on Thursday, Trump swore not to intimidate witnesses or communicate with them without legal counsel present.

Protective orders are routine in cases involving confidential documents, but prosecutors said it was particularly important to restrict public dissemination given Trump’s social media statements.

A Trump spokesperson issued a statement defending the former president’s social media post.

“The Truth post cited is the definition of political speech, and was in response to the Rino, China-loving, dishonest special interest groups and super PAC’s,” the statement said.

Security around court

For at least the next two weeks, officials are locking down security around the courthouse in Atlanta. Fulton county attorney Fani Willis has indicated she plans to bring charges in that investigation within weeks.

While the downtown court building will remain open, officials are closing surrounding roads to general traffic and have told most employees to work from home, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Magistrate court hearings, typically held for minor criminal and civil cases, will be held virtually.

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