A federal judge overseeing the 2020 election criminal case against Donald Trump on Monday said a hearing would be scheduled by the end of this week to discuss a protective order on the former president.
US District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan is now handling a debate over a protective order the Justice Department requested last Friday due to an online post the former president made that appeared to promise he would take revenge on anyone who goes after him.
Prosecutors had requested that Ms Chutkan issue a protective order concerning evidence in the case, CBS News reported.
“If you go after me, I'm coming after you,” Mr Trump posted in all capital letters on his Truth Social platform following his arraignment last week.
It was not clear at the time whether Mr Trump was speaking to his political opponents in the 2024 election or witnesses and prosecutors involved in the criminal cases against him.
The post Mr Trump made was published a day after he pleaded not guilty in a Washington court to charges of trying to overturn his 2020 election loss and block the peaceful transition of power.
A protective order, which is different from a gag order, would limit what information Mr Trump and his legal team can share publicly about the case brought by special counsel Jack Smith.
Protective orders are common in criminal cases, but prosecutors said it is “particularly important in this case” because Mr Trump has posted on social media about “witnesses, judges, attorneys and others associated with legal matters pending against him”.
Mr Trump's legal team requested an extension to respond to the Justice Department's protective order request and Ms Chutkan denied it, requiring his team to respond on Monday.
The former president’s legal team said his post was “generalised political speech” and had nothing to do with the case.
A Trump representative said last week that the post was in response to “dishonest special interest groups and Super PACs”.
Mr Trump's lawyers, who have characterised the case as an attack on his right to free speech, told the judge that the need to protect sensitive information about the case “does not require a blanket gag order over all documents produced by the government”.
“In a trial about First Amendment rights, the government seeks to restrict First Amendment rights,” Mr Trump's lawyers wrote.
“Worse, it does so against its administration’s primary political opponent, during an election season in which the administration, prominent party members and media allies have campaigned on the indictment and proliferated its false allegations.”
Prosecutors with Mr Smith's team quickly countered with their own filing, accusing Mr Trump of objecting to their proposal because he wants to be able to use the government's evidence to “try the case in the media rather than in the courtroom”.
A protective order places limits on what the defendant and their lawyer can do with the discovery material once it is in their possession. The purpose is to ensure that the information is only used to help the defence prepare for trial.
Mr Trump is the subject of three criminal cases so far as well as several lawsuits, including one that found him liable for sexual assault.
AP contributed to this report