Jack Smith Asks Judge For Steep Penalties On Trump If He Intimidates Witnesses


Former President Donald Trump has lately been facing this thing called the consequences — or at least potential consequences — of his actions. And the penalties are steep.

In a new filing with federal Judge Tanya Chutkan, Special Counsel Jack Smith’s team suggests that jail potentially accompany future violations of a gag order that federal prosecutors are hoping to get reactivated amid the proceedings. (It’s the election interference case.) Chutkan previously issued an administrative stay — meaning temporary halt — to enforcement of the order, which had briefly blocked public attacks by Trump on figures like Smith himself, Smith’s staff, and witnesses. And just in recent days, Trump has been online, clamoring against the possibility that former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows really did testify to federal authorities in exchange for a limited application of immunity, as stated by news reports.

Trump is also seeking a longer stay of the gag order, which federal prosecutors also oppose.

“Accordingly, the Court should modify the defendant’s conditions of release by making compliance with the Order a condition or by clarifying that the existing condition barring communication with witnesses about the facts of the case includes indirect messages to witnesses made publicly on social media or in speeches,” prosecutors said, adding: “By doing so, the Court will have at its disposal the compliance measures available under 18 U.S.C. § 3148 in addition to those available as a contempt penalty for violating the Order.” The cited portion of federal law referenced in that passage allows for punishments like detention.

The prosecutors contended that Trump’s comments targeting Meadows could be perceived as flouting the nature of evidently his foundational conditions of release in that the post sends an implicit message to Meadows himself… without the direct involvement of legal counsel as required. “The defendant shall not communicate about the facts of the case with any individual known to the defendant to be a witness, except through counsel or in the presence of counsel,” Trump’s conditions of release in this case assert. This isn’t even the only context in which Trump has lately been threatened with jail. New York Judge Arthur Engoron keeps raising the possibility of steep penalties if Trump continues to be found in violation of a gag order that presiding judge recently imposed.