Legal experts warned that former President Donald Trump could face court sanctions after firing off a series of Truth Social posts aimed at special counsel Jack Smith, the judge overseeing the case and likely witnesses for his upcoming trial.
Trump repeatedly attacked his former Vice President Mike Pence, who recently said he would “comply with the law” if he were obligated to testify in Trump’s conspiracy trial case, in which he stands accused of trying to subvert the results of the 2020 presidential election.
“I have no plans to testify, but, look, we’ll always comply with the law. But … I don’t know what the path of this indictment will be,” Pence said during a CNN interview that aired Sunday. “The president’s entitled to a presumption of innocence. He’s entitled to make his defense in court. But actually there are profound issues around this, pertaining to the First Amendment, freedom of speech and the rest. I’m confident he and his lawyer will litigate all those things.”
The previous day, Trump took to Truth Social, writing, “WOW, it’s finally happened! Liddle’ Mike Pence, a man who was about to be ousted as Governor Indiana until I came along and made him V.P., has gone to the Dark Side.”
“I never told a newly emboldened (not based on his 2% poll numbers!) Pence to put me above the Constitution, or that Mike was ‘too honest,'” the ex-president continued. “He’s delusional, and now he wants to show he’s a tough guy. I once read a major magazine article on Mike. It said he was not a very good person. I was surprised, but the article was right. Sad!”
Trump on Monday targeted Pence again after his remarks.
“I never said anything bad or even slightly inappropriate to Liddle’ Mike Pence,” he claimed. “What I did do was make him, over the many people who wanted it, Vice President of the United States. Disloyalty in politics is alive and well. MAGA!!!”
While Trump seemed to have a negative read on news of Pence’s willingness to testify, his criminal defense attorney, John Lauro, claimed that “Pence will be one of our best witnesses at trial.”
“I read his book very carefully, and if he testifies consistent with his book, then President Trump will be acquitted,” Lauro predicted on Sunday during a sit-down with ABC News.
Trump over the weekend also lashed out at U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, the federal judge randomly assigned to his trial case, asking for recusal and that his trial be transferred outside of left-leaning Washington, D.C.
“THERE IS NO WAY I CAN GET A FAIR TRIAL WITH THE JUDGE ‘ASSIGNED’ TO THE RIDICULOUS FREEDOM OF SPEECH/FAIR ELECTIONS CASE,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform. “EVERYBODY KNOWS THIS, AND SO DOES SHE! WE WILL BE IMMEDIATELY ASKING FOR RECUSAL OF THIS JUDGE ON VERY POWERFUL GROUNDS, AND LIKEWISE FOR VENUE CHANGE, OUT IF D.C. [sic]”
“Keep talking. You’re begging for the judge to slam you down,” warned national security attorney Bradley Moss.
Longtime Harvard legal scholar Laurence Tribe tweeted that Trump’s plan appears to be “to gloat if he gets away with trashing witnesses in defiance of the judge’s orders” and “to play victim and make the judge’s life a living hell if she imprisons him to enforce her mandate.”
“She should call the coward’s bluff,” he tweeted.
“Trump is daring Chutkan to enter a gag order,” argued University of Michigan law professor Barb McQuade. “
“With social media post blasting Pence, a witness in the election interference trial, Trump is daring Judge Chutkan to enter a gag order,” she wrote. “If she enters an order, he will cry foul. But, if she declines to do so, Trump will intimidate witnesses with impunity. “
Prosecutors in Trump’s election case have already asked Chutkan for a protective order, following a threatening statement Trump made on Truth Social last Friday.
“If you go after me, I’m coming after you!” he wrote.
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“The order — which is different from a so-called ‘gag order’ — would limit what information Trump and his legal team could share publicly about the case brought by special counsel Jack Smith,” The Associated Press noted,
Former federal prosecutor Andrew Weissmann, who served on special counsel Bob Mueller’s team, told MSNBC that “any other defendant who did this, who was facing six counts of obstruction of justice… I think would be remanded, meaning would be sent to jail and have to await trial in jail.”
Attorney Karen Friedman Agnifilo wrote in an op-ed that over her “three-decade former state prosecutor in New York, I have never seen a defendant treated as leniently as defendant Trump.”
“He has a rap sheet with 3 open felony indictments, 78-charges, in 3 separate jurisdictions,” she wrote. “He has repeatedly threatened prosecutors, judges, and potential witnesses and has his own 757 jumbo jet at the ready to fly anywhere in the world and can abscond at any time. And the nature of his charges are among the most serious there are — he is accused of stealing our nation’s most sensitive secrets, trying to destroy evidence of his crimes, committing fraud in the oval office, and causing a violent insurrection in order to attempt to steal an election he lost, and our democracy. Imagine if he were Black or Muslim. There is no doubt he would be incarcerated pending trial.”
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