A federal magistrate judge overseeing the opening proceedings of the classified documents case against former President Donald Trump has ordered him not to disclose information related to the prosecution’s ongoing efforts to pin him with 37 charges related to the alleged mishandling of sensitive documents as well as obstruction of justice.
On Monday, Judge Bruce Reinhart agreed to a motion from the Justice Department that its case against the 45th president would be hampered if President Trump were freely able to air his grievances about the case to his followers on Truth Social, a favorite venue for the former president to make surprise announcements or public statements. The ruling also bars Trump from discussing the federal case with reporters, and he is only permitted to view the evidence against him in the presence of his attorneys.
“Defendants shall only have access to Discovery Materials under the direct supervision of Defense Counsel or a member of Defense Counsel’s staff. Defendants shall not retain copies of Discovery Material,” wrote Judge Reinhart in his decision.
Reinhart, a magistrate judge appointed by the district judges above him, has been criticized for signing off on the DOJ’s warrant to conduct a sweeping search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago compound after authorities reached the conclusion that the former president was not being truthful in his claim that all classified documents in his possession had been turned back over to the government. Alina Habba, an attorney for the president, has said her team plans to depose witnesses who may introduce bias in the government’s search, citing the example of FBI agents ordering Mar-a-Lago staff to shut off security cameras during the raid.
The Hill reported that the Justice Department in its request Friday suggested Trump’s ability to speak freely about his legal woes could jeopardize the case against him.
“The materials also include information pertaining to ongoing investigations, the disclosure of which could compromise those investigations and identify uncharged individuals,” the department wrote.
The gag order of President Trump mirrors the actions of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg in his New York state case alleging 34 felony counts against the former president related to a hush money payment. In both cases, President Trump will now be prevented from independently viewing evidence or speaking about proceedings.