At the first hearing in the case against Donald Trump in connection with the Capitol attack, the lawyers of the former US President exchanged blows with the judge, according to the media. At the meeting on Friday in the US capital Washington, the question was whether Trump should be banned from making public certain evidence collected as part of the criminal investigation. According to the media, Judge Tanya Chutkan made it clear that the Republican did have the right to freedom of expression. But this is "not absolute". Therefore, she will take action if the Republican does not follow the rules. Trump himself was not present at the hearing.
The judge has warned the former US President against "seditious" statements. "I will take every step necessary to protect the integrity of this process," Chutkan said at a hearing on Trump's ability to publicly comment on the ongoing process. Specifically, the judge warned, among other things, against "intimidation of witnesses".
At the hearing in the capital Washington, Chutkan emphasized that she would ensure Trump's rights as a defendant. However, the freedom of speech of the 77-year-old ex-president and leading candidate for the 2024 presidential election is "not absolute". At the same time, the judge emphasized that she would not allow a "carnival atmosphere" at the later trial.
Following the hearing, the federal judge partially granted a request for a protective order by Special Counsel Jack Smith. The order regulates the handling of evidence that the public prosecutor's office must make available to the defense in preparation for the trial.
Judge Chutkan said Trump and his attorneys are not allowed to make "sensitive materials" public. This concerns, among other things, the identity of people listed in documentary evidence and witness statements.
At the end of last week, special counsel Smith applied for a protection order that would impose strict rules on Trump's public statements about the process. Smith wrote in his filing that an order in this case is "particularly important because the defendant has previously made public statements on social media about witnesses, judges, attorneys and other people associated with the legal affairs (...)".
Among other things, he referred to a quote from Trump, who had threatened on his online platform Truth Social: "If you follow me, I will follow you."
The Republican was indicted in early August for his attempts to overturn the outcome of the 2020 presidential election and thus stay in office. Trump faces four charges including conspiracy to defraud the United States and conspiracy to obstruct an official process.
After his defeat by Democrat Joe Biden, the right-wing populist made false allegations of election fraud, among other things, in an attempt to prevent confirmation of Biden's election victory. Finally, on January 6, 2021, radical Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in Washington, when Biden's election victory was to be finally certified there.
Special Counsel Smith has requested an expedited trial and has given January 2 as a possible date. That would be two weeks before the start of the Republican presidential primary, in which Trump is the clear favorite.