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Jan. 6: Judge bars Trump from speaking publicly about 'sensitive materials' in case

Tanya Chutkan's order limits access to information determined by Special Prosecutor Smith.

Donald Trump

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Trump may not speak publicly about "sensitive materials" from the Jan. 6 case. Judge Tanya Chutkan issued an order Friday after hearing arguments from the Justice Department and the former president's lawyers.

The limit established by Chutkan only involves information or documents related to the investigation process. Special Prosecutor Jack Smith's team will determine what information is "sensitive," following the guidance set forth in the order. Witness testimony and materials obtained from other government entities may be included.

The judge also prohibited anyone not directly linked to the case from reviewing the evidence, and in the event that someone, such as a witness, should have access, he or she will have to commit in writing not to disclose about what they have learned.

It also dedicates rules specifically for Trump. He may review the evidence without the need to be accompanied by his attorneys, but if he takes notes, his legal representatives must review them. When examining the material unaccompanied, Trump may not have "any device capable of photocopying, recording, or otherwise replicating" the documents, including his cell phone.

Beyond the order, the judge warned that she will be watching to see if Trump's words in any way obstruct the process or intimidate witnesses. She also argued that the former president should distinguish between his defense in court and in the campaign, avoiding references to "sensitive materials" if any candidate criticized him for his alleged role on Jan. 6.

"Legal trials are not like elections, to be won through the use of the meeting hall, the radio and the newspaper," she said in a session with both sides prior to the decision last Friday, in remarks picked up by CNN. "This case is no exception."

According to the same media outlet, Chutkan warned that if "inflammatory" words were uttered, she would be forced to move as quickly as possible toward a trial to ensure an impartial jury.

Chutkan thus partially yielded to the Justice Department's request after Trump promised revenge against those who initiated what he called a "witch hunt." It remains to be seen how she resolves another request from Jack Smith: to start the trial on Jan. 2, 2024.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v.... by Santiago Adolfo Ospital