Trump Comments Risk Tainting Washington Jury Pool, DOJ Says

(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump’s daily statements about the election obstruction case in Washington threaten to “prejudice” the jury pool in the nation’s capital, US prosecutors told a judge.

Most Read from Bloomberg

The claim on Tuesday came in the middle of a fight between Special Counsel John “Jack” Smith’s office and the former president’s legal team over a sealed request the government wants to file. The filings are light on details, but prosecutors revealed that their motion describes Trump’s “daily extrajudicial statements.”

US District Judge Tanya Chutkan had warned Trump about making any comments that might inflame the potential pool of jurors, but didn’t impose any special restrictions on his speech. She said she might have to hold the trial sooner than March 4, as currently scheduled, if the former president’s comments might taint the jury pool.

In an Aug. 14 post on Truth Social, his social media site, Trump wrote of Chutkan: “She obviously wants me behind bars. VERY BIASED & UNFAIR!”

Trump’s lawyers had argued against letting the government file its motion under seal — with a redacted version published on the public docket — without first getting two weeks to weigh in on the sealing issue. Smith’s team called that proposal “unworkable.”

“Such a requirement would grind litigation in this case to a halt, which is particularly infeasible given the pressing matters before the court,” prosecutors wrote, referring to their description of Trump’s statements.

Chutkan set aside her order giving the government permission to file the motion under seal and to unseal a redacted portion of it and gave Trump’s lawyers until Sept. 11 to file a response.

The case is US v. Trump, 23-cr-257, US District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.