Jack Smith faces new legal challenge

A nonprofit group of lawyers and strategists, some of whom previously worked in Donald Trump’s administration, has filed a legal petition challenging a potential federal gag order against the former president in a classified documents case.

The amicus brief, submitted to the Southern District of Florida on Thursday by America First Legal (AFL), which includes Stephen Miller, a former senior adviser to Trump and AFL president, and former U.S. acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, aims to “protect President Donald J. Trump’s Constitutionally protected right to free speech and prevent Special Counsel Jack Smith from obtaining an unlawful gag order.”

Smith has accused Trump of storing the documents at his Mar-a-Lago resort home in Palm Beach, Florida, since he became president. He has also accused Trump of obstructing efforts by federal authorities to retrieve highly sensitive documents.

Republican presidential nominee and former President Donald Trump speaks during a rally at Festival Park in Racine, Wisconsin, on June 18. A group made up of former Trump administration officials has filed a brief challenging …


Scott Olson/Getty Images

“Jack Smith and the Biden Justice Department are engaged in an unprecedented assault on essential freedoms in the United States,” AFL Executive Director Jean Hamilton said in a statement. “Their willingness to join in court-sanctioned censorship of Donald Trump is dangerous and inconsistent with the history of the First Amendment — and sadly, it is consistent with the Biden administration’s broader campaign to destroy the right to free speech in the United States.”

“There is no evidence that President Trump sought to impede the impartiality of the jury or incite violence. He is a political candidate whose rights to speak out and protest are particularly acute because he believes he is the target of a political prosecution.”

Newsweek The AFL and Department of Justice were contacted via email for comment.

U.S. District Judge Elaine Cannon, who is hearing the case and has been accused of being overly favorable to Trump and his legal counsel and overly harsh on Smith, on Monday rejected a motion from 24 Republican attorneys general from across the country asking the court to prevent Smith from granting a gag order against Trump.

The filing, filed with the Austin, Texas-based Stone Hilton law firm, addresses the issue on First Amendment grounds and how the Constitution’s framers viewed free speech — warning that the government’s attempt to “silence” Trump’s speech “must be done with great caution and with particular regard to the Constitution’s framers and the Supreme Court’s disdain for trampling on important First Amendment rights.”

They argue that preventing Trump from speaking about a matter that affects him personally and politically because he is the presumptive Republican nominee for president is to stifle the entire American political system.

“The government has provided no evidence of such extreme disruption that it could meet the statutory standard for silencing defendants before trial,” the filing states. “It essentially cannot meet the extremely high constitutional standard for preemptively restricting President Trump’s speech.”

“The attempt to do so — months before President Trump is set to run for election against a president whose attorney general appointed the special prosecutor — is particularly troubling.”

The AFL also invoked the Founding Fathers and their protection of public debate in the realm of politics and government, and stated that such “principles come together to firmly protect candidates for national office from restrictions on their speech.”

The suit also cites “constitutional restrictions on prior injunctions” in connection with infringing on Trump’s freedom of speech, and says that the former president’s statements and rhetoric do not meet the standards for “incitement of violence” as alleged by prosecutors.

A spokesman for Stone Hilton, a boutique firm that is well-connected with Texas and federal Republicans and describes itself as “institutionally right-wing,” said. Newsweek His involvement in the case marks the fourth time he has filed a lawsuit in partnership with the AFL in support of Trump, he said via email Friday.

“We indeed believe that the special counsel’s proposed order is a flagrant violation of the First Amendment and, further, is clearly designed to interfere with the criminal process between a leading presidential candidate and the American public,” the spokesperson said.

“Voters are entitled to hear from their presidential candidates, and the Court’s order does not meet the very high standard for limiting President Trump’s constitutional right to free speech.”