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Judge Denies Limited Gag Order Request in Trump Documents Case

A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily denied a request by prosecutors to bar former President Donald J. Trump from making statements that might endanger law enforcement agents working on the case in which he stands accused of illegally holding on to classified documents after he left office.

The decision by the judge, Aileen M. Cannon, was made solely on the procedural grounds that prosecutors working for the special counsel, Jack Smith, had failed to properly inform Mr. Trump’s lawyers before making their request. It left open the possibility that the prosecution could try again to restrict Mr. Trump’s remarks about the agents if it follows the procedural rules.

As part of her decision, Judge Cannon also temporarily denied an attempt by Mr. Trump’s legal team to push back against the government. Mr. Trump’s lawyers had filed a counter-motion seeking to have the prosecutors’ request stricken from the record and to have sanctions imposed on Mr. Smith and his deputies for failing to follow the proper procedure.

Even though Judge Cannon’s ruling rebuked Mr. Smith for having ignored “professional courtesy” by failing to properly follow the process for informing defense lawyers of its request, it left the underlying issues in the whirlwind spat untouched. Those remain largely where they stood when the dispute between the defense and prosecution began on Friday evening.

It was then, at the start of the holiday weekend, that Mr. Smith’s prosecutors asked Judge Cannon to undertake a dramatic new step in the case: to revise the conditions of Mr. Trump’s release to keep him from making any public statements that could threaten or otherwise harm the F.B.I. agents working on the classified documents case.

The request came after Mr. Trump claimed in social media and fund-raising appeals, without basis, that the bureau had authorized agents to kill him during their August 2022 search of Mar-a-Lago, his private club and residence in Florida.

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