Courtroom Tensions Rise as Judge Cannon Weighs Restrictions on Trump’s Speech


In a contentious hearing on Monday, Judge Aileen Cannon expressed skepticism about special counsel Jack Smith’s request to impose restrictions on Donald Trump’s speech, citing a lack of evidence that the former president’s words pose a genuine threat.

During the hearing, Cannon pressed prosecutor David Harbach on the specific instances of harm caused by Trump’s statements, with Harbach becoming increasingly agitated. At one point, Cannon admonished him for his tone, saying, “I don’t appreciate your tone” and cautioning him to use “decorum.” Harbach later apologized for his unprofessional behavior.

Smith’s team had filed a motion to modify Trump’s release conditions in the classified documents case, citing concerns that his statements about law enforcement officials who executed a search of his Mar-a-Lago residence in 2022 could inspire extremists to harass or threaten the officials. Trump has accused President Joe Biden of plotting to kill him, citing a standard FBI policy regarding the use of “lethal force” in search warrants.

Prosecutors argued that Trump’s statements, including claims that the government was “authorized to shoot me” and “just itching to do the unthinkable,” create a grossly misleading impression about the intentions and conduct of federal law enforcement agents and expose them to risk. Trump’s defense attorneys, however, maintained that the statements were aimed at his political opponent, President Biden, rather than law enforcement officials.

The hearing ended without a ruling, with Cannon giving prosecutors until Wednesday to provide a firmer correlation between Trump’s comments and any serious threats they may have prompted. Trump’s attorney, Todd Blanche, argued that Trump’s remarks were targeted at Biden, rather than law enforcement officials, although he acknowledged that the statements may not have been justified.

Ashley Oliver
Ashley Oliver
Ashley Oliver is a Justice Department reporter. She previously covered Congress and campaigns for Breitbart News. Originally from Fredericksburg, Virginia, she graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in classics and philosophy before spending six years in Massachusetts working in the real estate industry.

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