Former President Donald Trump asserted that he was being denied his First Amendment rights after special counsel Jack Smith filed a request for a gag order against him.
During a speech on Sept. 15 at the Concerned Women of America Summit in Washington, President Trump said Mr. Smith “wants to take away my rights under the First Amendment.”
“He wants to take away my right of speaking freely and openly,” President Trump added. “Never forget our enemies want to stop us because we are the only ones that can stop them. They want to take away my freedom because I will never let them take away your freedom.”
In a 19-page filing made public on Friday, Mr. Smith is requesting Judge Tanya Chutkan to issue a “narrowly tailored” order to limit what the former president is allowed to say about the federal case involving his alleged efforts to challenge the results of the 2020 election.
"The defendant has repeatedly and widely disseminated public statements attacking the citizens of the District of Columbia, the Court, prosecutors, and prospective witnesses," Mr. Smith wrote. “Through his statements, the defendant threatens to undermine the integrity of these proceedings and prejudice the jury pool.”
Mr. Smith’s office referenced at least 10 of the former President’s Truth Social posts in the filing.
The former president was indicted by a grand jury in Washington convened by Mr. Smith on Aug. 1. The indictment accuses President Trump of conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct the Jan. 6 certification of votes, and conspiracy against the right to vote. President Trump has pleaded not guilty.
At a separate event on Friday, President Trump also responded to Mr. Smith’s gag order request.
“They want to see if they can silence me. So the media, the fake news, will ask me a question. ‘I’m sorry, I won’t be able to answer that.’ How do you think we do in that election? So we’re gonna have a little bit of fun with that, I think,” President Trump said at the Family Research Council's annual Pray, Vote, Stand Summit.
The former president also took to his Truth Social account to respond to Mr. Smith’s latest legal maneuver.
“So, I’m campaigning for President against an incompetent person who has WEAPONIZED the DOJ & FBI to go after his Political Opponent, & I am not allowed to COMMENT? They Leak, Lie, & Sue, & they won’t allow me to SPEAK?” President Trump wrote while pointing to his huge leads in polls.
According to a Harvard CAPS/Harris poll released on Sept. 16, President Trump received 44 percent of support, edging out President Joe Biden by 4 percentage points, in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup. Fifteen percent said they were undecided.
The former president also had a commanding lead in the GOP field, receiving 57 percent of support. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis finished in a distant second with 10 percent, with biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy in third place with 8 percent.
Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley finished with 6 percent of support, while none of the remaining GOP candidates netted more than 5 percent. A total of 9 percent said they were unsure whom they would vote.
The poll surveyed 2,103 registered votes from Sept. 12 to Sept. 14.
‘Two-Tiered System of Justice’
Two Republican lawmakers also echoed President Trump’s claim about his First Amendment rights.
“Jack Smith is interfering in the 2024 presidential election and violating President Trump’s first amendment free speech rights,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Sept. 16. “Jack Smith’s special counsel must be defunded.”
“Jack Smith is attempting to deny Donald Trump his First Amendment rights while Smith drags Trump through the mud with innuendo, secret grand juries, and a rigged two-tiered system of justice,” Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C) wrote on X on Sept. 15.
Mr. Duncan added, “Remember, Adam Schiff and the democrats want the trials of Trump to be broadcast so that they can malign him in the court of public opinion. Now, Jack Smith wants to leave Trump helpless to the onslaught of radical leftists and bureaucrats who have one goal: take down Donald Trump.”
In early August, about 40 House Democrats, including Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), sent a letter to the Judicial Conference, asking that President Trump’s 2020 election case should be broadcast to public, arguing that doing so would be important to “our democratic institutions.”