Special counsel Jack Smith’s office argued Friday that former President Donald Trump may have violated his release terms by purchasing a gun, though Trump’s spokesperson claims he did not purchase one.
Trump spokesman Steven Cheung tweeted Sept. 25 that Trump purchased a gun in South Carolina, though Cheung later walked back his claim and deleted the tweet, according to The Associated Press. Prosecutors said in a Friday night court filing that Trump “potentially” violated the terms of his release, citing a federal law that makes it illegal for anyone under indictment for a crime punishable by more than one year in prison to receive a firearm.
“The defendant either purchased a gun in violation of the law and his conditions of release, or seeks to benefit from his supporters’ mistaken belief that he did so,” prosecutors wrote in a footnote. “It would be a separate federal crime, and thus a violation of the defendant’s conditions of release, for him to purchase a gun while this felony indictment is pending.” (RELATED: ‘Desperate Effort At Censorship’: Trump Lawyers Press Judge To Deny Jack Smith Gag Order Request)
A Trump spokesperson later clarified that the former president wanted to purchase a gun but did not actually do so. While Trump expressed a desire to buy the gun, he was not seen filling out paperwork to purchase one, according to The Post and Courier.
Smith notes in his filing that Trump still reposted a video of the event shared by one of his followers after his spokesperson deleted his tweet.
David Kopel, research director at the Independence Institute, told Check Your Fact that some federal courts have found the law unconstitutional.
“A federal judge in Texas found it unconstitutional last year and the Fifth Circuit is currently deciding that case on appeal,” Gutowski said. “However, the law remains in effect as of now.”
Photos of the handgun that Donald Trump wanted to purchase in South Carolina have been released, showing custom engravings featuring Trump.
I see why he wanted it 🔥
Spokesman for Trump, Steven Cheung initially reported that the former president purchased the gun however the… pic.twitter.com/te0zBUu2Nr
— Collin Rugg (@CollinRugg) September 25, 2023
Smith’s comments were made in a court filing supporting his prior request for a “narrow” gag order that would bar Trump from making “disparaging and inflammatory, or intimidating” statements about parties, witnesses, court personnel and potential jurors who are connected to his 2020 election case.
“The defendant should not be permitted to obtain the benefits of his incendiary public statements and then avoid accountability by having others—whose messages he knows will receive markedly less attention than his own—feign retraction,” Smith’s office wrote, pointing to the gun incident as an example in the footnote. “Likewise, no other criminal defendant would be permitted to issue public statements insinuating that a known witness in his case should be executed; this defendant should not be, either.”
Trump’s lawyers slammed the request in a Tuesday filing as a political ploy by the Biden administration to silence “the leading contender in the 2024 Presidential Election.”
“This desperate effort at censorship is unconstitutional on its face,” Trump’s lawyers wrote, urging U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan to deny Smith’s request.
However, prosecutors said Friday that Trump should not have “special treatment.”
“In the defendant’s opposition—premised on inapplicable caselaw and false claims—he demands special treatment, asserting that because he is a political candidate, he should have free rein to publicly intimidate witnesses and malign the Court, citizens of this District, and prosecutors,” prosecutors argued Friday. “But in this case, Donald J. Trump is a criminal defendant like any other.”
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