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Judge in classified files case to consider reining in Trump attacks on FBI

The Alto Lee Adams Sr courthouse, where Donald Trump's trial will begin on 14 August in Fort Pierce, Florida. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Unlike in Trump’s other cases, where prosecutors sought gag orders, violation of Cannon’s order carries risk of jail

The federal judge overseeing Donald Trump’s prosecution for retaining classified documents is expected on Monday to consider modifying his conditions of release to include a prohibition on making statements that could endanger the safety of FBI agents involved in the case.

The request to the US district judge, Aileen Cannon – the first time prosecutors have sought to limit Trump’ public remarks in this case – raises the stakes for Trump. Unlike in his other cases, where prosecutors sought gag orders, a violation of release conditions carries a risk of jail.

The latest dispute over Trump’s inflammatory statements stems from his blatantly false characterization of the FBI’s use-of-deadly force policy when they executed a search warrant at the Mar-a-Lago club in August 2022 and retrieved more than 100 classified documents.

The order, which limits FBI agents to use deadly force only if they face extreme danger and became public after the FBI’s operational plan for the search was unsealed, used standard language that is routinely used in hundreds of warrants executed across the country.

But Trump and some allies twisted the limiting language to claim the FBI was authorized by the Biden administration to shoot him when they searched Mar-a-Lago, even though Trump was not there during the search and the language is standard US justice department policy.

“Crooked Joe Biden’s DOJ, in their Illegal and UnConstitutional Raid of Mar-a-Lago, AUTHORIZED THE FBI TO USE DEADLY (LETHAL) FORCE. NOW WE KNOW, FOR SURE, THAT JOE BIDEN IS A SERIOUS THREAT TO DEMOCRACY. HE IS MENTALLY UNFIT TO HOLD OFFICE — 25TH AMENDMENT!” Trump wrote in a social media post last month.

Prosecutors in the office of the special counsel, Jack Smith, last month asked Cannon to revise Trump’s conditions of release to bar him from making any public comments “that pose a significant, imminent and foreseeable danger to law enforcement agents participating in the investigation”.

By falsely suggesting that FBI agents were prepared to kill him, prosecutors argued, Trump exposed them to the risk of threats, violence and harassment. “These deceptive and inflammatory assertions irresponsibly put a target on the backs of the FBI agents involved in this case,” the motion said.

To back up their point, prosecutors reminded Cannon that a man tried to shoot his way into an FBI office in Ohio just days after the Mar-a-Lago search, saying “patriots” should head to Florida to defend Trump and kill FBI agents.

But prosecutors did not include an example of Trump’s remarks directly leading to a threat, a point on which Cannon previously criticised prosecutors when they sought in a separate motion to force Trump to redact the identities of people involved in the investigation to ensure their safety.

The question was adopted by Trump’s lawyers in their 20-page response to prosecutors’ motion, arguing they had failed to point to a single example of an agent working on the documents case who has faced threats because of Trump’s inflammatory statements.

“President Trump and the defense are similarly unaware of any hostility, harassment or risk of harm directed at any agent involved in this case based on President Trump’s statements,” the Trump lawyers wrote.

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