Protection Racket: Donald Trump Thinks He’s More Special Than Steve Bannon

As you no doubt know, Trump and his January 6 prosecutors had a bit of a spat about the protective order governing evidence in the case.

The timeline goes like this:

August 2, 9:55PM: A Jack Smith prosecutor — given the initials, probably Thomas Windom — sends John Lauro a proposed protective order, “largely track[ing] the existing protective order in SDFL.”

“Evening of August 3 and early afternoon of August 4:” DOJ reaches out twice more.

Friday, August 4, 1:09PM: Trump’s latest defense attorney sends their own proposed protective order.

Friday, August 4, 2:39PM: A prosecutor (probably Windom) responds saying that Trump’s proposed order doesn’t make sense, notes that DOJ is again proposing the same order as adopted (by Aileen Cannon) in SDFL.

Friday, August 4, 2:45PM: Someone responds saying they adopted their proposal “form [sic] similar orders used in the district.”

Friday, August 4, 6:06PM: An AUSA responds, noting that Trump’s proposed order “would leave large amounts of material completely unprotected in a way not contemplated by standard orders in” DC.

Friday, August 4, 6:39PM: Someone responds saying they should brief it to Magistrate Judge Upadhyaya, whom they do not name, and ask that DOJ note “that we have did not have adequate time to confer.”

Friday, August 4: Trump tweets out video attacking the prosecutors prosecuting him and Joe Biden.

Friday, August 4: Trump tweets, “IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU!”

Friday, August 4, at least 3 hours after Trump’s tweet: DOJ files for a protective order, noting that Trump plans to just spill out grand jury information. The proposed motion is closely modeled on the Steve Bannon one.

Saturday August 5: Judge Chutkan orders Trump to respond by 5PM Monday

MINUTE ORDER as to DONALD J. TRUMP: It is hereby ORDERED that by 5:00 PM on August 7, 2023, Defendant shall file a response to the government’s 10 Motion for Protective Order, stating Defendant’s position on the Motion. If Defendant disagrees with any portion of the government’s proposed Protective Order, ECF No. 10-1, his response shall include a revised version of that Protective Order with any modifications in redline

Saturday, August 5: Trump attorney John Lauro moves for reconsideration, claiming — while misrepresenting the timeline — that the government had not conferred with him about the protective order.

Saturday August 5: DOJ responds noting that Trump is holding things up and noting that Lauro left out other efforts to consult.

In emails not appended to the defendant’s extension motion, the Government followed up on the evening of August 3 and early afternoon of August 4. Thereafter, defense counsel finally responded by sending an entirely different protective order.

Saturday, August 5: Judge Chutkan denies Lauro’s motion, ordering him to comply by 5PM on Monday.

MINUTE ORDER as to DONALD J. TRUMP: Defendant’s 11 Motion for Extension of Time is hereby DENIED. Defendant may continue to confer with the government regarding its proposed protective order before or after the August 7, 2023 5:00 PM deadline for his response. The court will determine whether to schedule a hearing to discuss the proposed protective order after reviewing Defendant’s response and, if included, his revised proposed protective order with modifications in redline.

But what has been missed is this: The protective order the government proposed last Friday is the protective order Judge Carl Nichols, the former Clarence Thomas clerk appointed by Trump, issued for the Steve Bannon contempt case.

Here’s that order, which Chutkan has ordered Trump to modify.

Here’s the order Trump appointee Carl Nichols adopted in 2021 for a similarly situated defendant. They’re not identical: the one the government proposed includes more detail about what should be treated as sensitive. But otherwise, they’re the same.

What this boils down to is that Trump — after issuing threats targeting prosecutors and judges — thinks he’s more special than Steve Bannon.

And Judge Chutkan isn’t buying that bullshit.

Update: In Trump’s response, he didn’t include the protective order he wants. He included a great deal of other shit, including the docket from SDFL. But this is a protective order adopted in DC District that separates out sensitive material; it’s from the Russian troll farm case.

51 replies
  1. Joe says:

    I have every confidence that Judge Chutkan will act reasonably and forcefully. I also have every confidence that Trump will spin and falsify every procedural twist and turn to his ostensible advantage. I have zero confidence in the media establishment to interpret these actions correctly. Ergo, glad you’re on the case.

    [FYI – wrong username, s/b “Joeff53.” /~Rayne]

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I appreciate that Chutkan refused to permit a delay about something so sensitive as a protective order covering grand jury material. Once out there, that material won’t fit back in the toothpaste tube.

    The timeline also seems to show that Trump’s lawyers were not negotiating in good faith, not a basis for accommodating them. If they don’t know wtf they’re doing, that’s on Trump, because he can afford any and any number of lawyers he wants.

    • !noromo' says:

      “…that’s on Trump, because he can afford any and any number of lawyers he wants.”

      This made me laugh. Given Trump’s proclivity for not paying his bills, he certainly can “afford” any and any number of lawyers….

    • SteveBev says:

      And, perhaps unsurprisingly, Trump’s lawyers in their motion, having misrepresented the timeline, go on to accuse the prosecutors of ‘improper tactics’ and further wrongly suggest that prosecution are demonstrating a ‘concerning pattern’ having been ‘admonished’ by Judge Cannon in the Florida case for a similarly ‘recalcitrant approach’.

      How surprising that Trump lawyers make bad faith accusations of bad faith.

      • wa_rickf says:

        Projection, a term used in psychology, is when someone accuses others of acts the accuser is doing himself.

        Projection is a Rwinger’s go-to move aka stock and trade.

        • SteveBev says:

          And in the context of political propaganda there is the term “accusations in a mirror”

          It has a specific special meaning in International Criminal Tribunals dealing with genocide as applying to
          “Claims that members of the target group pose a mortal or existential threat to the audience, aptly dubbed “accusation in a mirror”. The speaker accuses the target group of plotting the same harm to the audience that the speaker hopes to incite, thus providing the audience with the collective analogue of the only ironclad defense to homicide: self-defense. One of the most famous examples is the Nazi assertion, before the Holocaust began, that Jews were planning to wipe out the German people”

          Without wanting to water down the particular meaning in the understanding of the law and politics of genocide, the understanding of the propaganda and social psychological effect of this type of projection is important imho
          For Trump projection in not just feral narcissistic instinct it is also a motivational tool.

    • Agnes Pennington says:

      No good lawyer will represent him, one because he won’t pay and 2nd he won’t listen to them.

      [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username each time you comment so that community members get to know you. “Agnes Pennington” is your second user name; because it’s been quite a while you may have forgotten you last commented here as “aggywaggy.” Thanks. /~Rayne]

  3. Unabogie says:

    I finally finished the indictment, and I truly hope Jeff Clark is indicted. He was a particularly bad actor in all of this.

    • burnitclean says:

      I’m with you. The section of the indictment beginning on page 21: “The Defendant’s Use of Dishonesty Fraud, and Deceit to Organize Fraudulent Slates of Electors and Cause Them to Transmit False Certificates to Congress” is an amazing chronicle of Clark’s actions to keep Trump in power. He needs his days in court.

  4. massappeal says:

    I’m not saying anything that people who’ve been following this blog don’t already know but this may well be where DOJ’s years of patient work prosecuting hundreds of Jan. 6 defendants starts to pay dividends. Smith’s team has tons of experience with cases involving these charges, this crime scene, and the available evidence. The DC judges (not just Chutkan) have tons of experience presiding over these cases, and by now they’ve seen almost everything defense attorneys have to offer.

    Meanwhile, Trump’s lawyers have (I think) relatively little experience with these charges and this evidence and these judges. They may find, as they have in the last couple of days, that the tactics that have served Trump well in the past won’t serve him as well in this trial.

    • P’villain says:

      As Dr. Wheeler’s links and analysis demonstrate, Smith’s team even has forms upon which to rely, to expedite and strengthen their pre-trial motions.

    • SPLCGIRL says:

      I totally agree.
      The DoJ’s ‘slow start’ to the J6 insurrection is like the climb up the foot mountains toward Mt. Everest. Physical and mental stamina strengthened, equipment & supplies perfected, techniques and skills proven and all is ready for the ascent.
      “But presidents are not kings, and plaintiff is not president.” — D.C. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan, November 10, 2021.

      [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username each time you comment so that community members get to know you. Your last published comments appeared as “Splcgirl” which is not the same as “SPLCGIRL.” Thanks. /~Rayne]

    • hstancat says:

      What do you believe has happened in the last couple days that shows these defense tactics are failing? By refusing to stipulate to what appears to a standard protective order, they have garnered at minimum of a few days delay. Later, they will point to the aggregate amount of delay that eventually accrues as a reason for more accommodation. Worst case in a contested hearing, there remains at least a shot that the ultimate protective order will be incrementally more lenient.

      Meanwhile, their client is busy provoking the judge and prosecutors several times a day. If either takes the bait even a little bit, the defense gets at least another round of tv spots. If they overreact, then it will be even worse. If they ignore the provocations, the defendant gets more special treatment to behave like no other defendant could.

      Marcy’s timeline shows that the defense affirmatively misrepresented the pre motion consultations over the relief requested and smeared the prosecutors in doing so. The prosecution called them on it. Hate to say it but that kind of thing happens frequently. But everyone is watching every filing in this case. Do you think the trial court should ignore this controversy as inconsequential typical lawyer bullshit? Or schedule a contempt hearing sua sponte in order to establish control early? No matter where on this spectrum the judge lands, the defense gets another card to play.

      The combination of defendant’s unprecedented media access and his propaganda skills means this trench warfare is going to continue for months. What and how much to do about it is going to test the trial judge’s prudence in ways we have never seen before.

  5. sohelpmedog says:

    ” Judge Chutkan isn’t buying that bullshit.”
    “MINUTE ORDER as to DONALD J. TRUMP: Defendant’s 11 Motion for Extension of Time is hereby DENIED. ”
    ‘We’re not in Kansas (or the SDFL) anymore.’

  6. Critter7 says:

    Trump’s attorney’s have filed a motion seeking to extend the August 7, 5 pm, deadline by 3 days (of course!). Government responds by opposing that motion, encouraging the court to stick with the original deadline.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Yes, that was in Marcy’s timeline – in this post.

      A lack of experience or enough hands on deck won’t go far for this defendant or in this court. Unlike many defendants, Trump has the resources to deal with any situation; if he chooses not to deploy them, the consequences are on him.

      I found it interesting that while his lawyers were trying to unskillfully negotiate with prosecutors over a protective order, Trump issued a not so veiled threat against those who, “come after him.” It doesn’t matter that that pose is part of his usual schtick. It has real world consequences, as Jan. 6th itself demonstrates.

      This court and its peers in the DC district have wrestled through about a thousand cases relating to Jan. 6th. If Trump isn’t prepared to defend himself with legal arguments, as opposed to more violent speech, he’s likely to be in a world of hurt.

      • Tech Support says:

        Every 3rd grade teacher, every emergency room nurse, every clerk at the DMV, and surely every judge knows what it’s like to deal with the same bullshit over and over again, coming from people who naively believe that their lame excuses are the product of some unique inspiration… but the level of preparation this particular district has for this particular bullshit is exceptional.

  7. greenbird says:

    Going forward i’ll mentally refer to him as being ‘MR. Trump,” to clearly equate him being just a regular defendant, nothing special, while watching for other specific designations.

    • wa_rickf says:

      America only has one POTUS at a time. Donald Trump is merely a citizen once again. Referring to Donald as “Mr. Trump” is an appropriate salutation.

    • FLwolverine says:

      When I told my (retired) trial lawyer husband that Judge Chutkan had denied the motion to extend, he laughed and said: “Trial lawyers ought to know weekends are for working. Then on Monday you go back to court.”

  8. intrrobang says:

    Friday, August 4: Mr. Trump tweets, “IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU!” Later that day a group of his slobbering sycophants confronts Pence calling him a traitor and sellout:

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. SECOND REQUEST: Please use the same username each time you comment so that community members get to know you. You’ve been commenting as “interrobang” until 20JUL2023 when you commented as “introbang.” Changes of username and email address typo make you look like a sockpuppet or identity spoofer. PLEASE use the same name each time. /~Rayne]

  9. greenbird says:

    per your update:

    Update: In Trump’s response, he didn’t include the protective order he wants. He included a great deal of other shit, including the docket from SDFL. But this is a protective order adopted in DC District that separates out sensitive material; it’s from the Russian troll farm case.
    Is this Trump’s “response” ? –

    11 Aug 5, 2023 MOTION for Extension of Time to File Response/Reply as to 10 MOTION for Protective Order,
    MOTION for Hearing by DONALD J. TRUMP.

    (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Lauro, John) (Entered: 08/05/2023)

    • emptywheel says:

      No. They have not posted what their original request was. Windom rightly said what Trump was pushing was unusual in this district.

    • jecojeco says:

      Good point, in bad-mouthing Pence as not a good person and disputing his recounting of events trump is already attacking a key witness.

      In issuing two w/e rulings Chutkin is sending team trump a message that she isn’t going to defer to their delay game tactics. If trump’s lawyers engage in sloppy work it isn’t going to dictate the court’s scheule. Lauro looks like trump’s Roy Cohn reciting bullshit that won’t float in Chutkin’s courtroom, he’s a great fit for trump’s style.

      Looks like this judge will keep the pedal to the metal while trump’s publicity whores strut their stuff on tv. trumps comments on truth and in his hate rallies could bring things to a head very quickly.

      • Matt___B says:

        Lauro glibly represented John Eastman as an “esteemed constitutional scholar” who was “merely suggesting a 10-day pause in the counting of electoral votes” on a Fox interview the other day. His legal talents lie in the direction porcine cosmetology, a great fit indeed…

    • RitaRita says:

      How can Trump, the political candidate, comply with the judge’s order not to harass or intimidate witnesses?

      His whole campaign is built around personal grievance and ad hominem attacks on his opponents. And Pence, and possibly Christy, are witnesses and political opponents.

      It might be possible to thread the needle. But Trump is not a thread the needle kind of guy.

    • Steven Smith says:

      From what I can tell (via Google) Pence no longer has SS protection. I am very worried about his safety. The minor contretemps in the parking lot is just a sad indication of the danger that lurks near every place he goes.

      This seems untenable. He is probably the most important witness against Trump.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Perhaps he is, but that’s not the purpose of USSS protection, which is defined by statute and which provides that a former VP gets protection for up to six months. A sitting president can reinstate it temporarily.

        I don’t suspect that candidate Pence would appreciate that, because it would suggest a drawing of sides that Pence has avoided as he does the simple declarative sentence. He does have access to private protection, if he wants it.

  10. Sussex Trafalgar says:

    Trump is a malignant narcissist intent on disrupting and, if possible, destroying the lives of all witnesses who testify against him. He also covets destroying the institutions of the US Government that he deems are against him or that he cannot control. His only defense in this case and the only defense he has ever used throughout his life his executing ad hominem attacks on those he perceives he must destroy to achieve his goals and objectives. The attorneys he hires are nothing but legal prostitutes.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Trump has a meager chance of winning at trial, or to secure a favorable plea. He has one sure political defense: a presidential pardon, or at least a commutation of sentence to get or keep him out of prison. That’s where he seems to be putting all his fractured marbles.

      • Sunflores says:

        Interesting observation. Perhaps trump is negotiating with some/all of the candidates that he will step out of the race and campaign for them, if they pardon him or commute his sentence

        • P J Evans says:

          They’d be fools to trust that kind of promise. When he’s appeared with other candidates in the past, it’s two minutes of support of them, and an hour of ranting on his favorite subjects.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          As bankable a promise as Elmo promising to pay the legal bills of right wing commentators on his once-a-bird site, should they be sued or prosecuted. The checks will be in the mail right after Elmo pays his long overdue severance payments and back rent.

        • CaptainCondorcet says:

          He’s not much the negotiating kind. And with the Republicans, he doesn’t need to. They saw what happened when he halfheartedly called for a mail ballot boycott in Georgia. Imagine calling for an election boycott to “punish RINOs”. It would be devastation to the national party, ironically in no small part because of all those carefully gerrymandered districts. The irony would be delicious except for the horror that as long as there is proof people will abstain from voting when trump tells them to, he is holding an entire political party hostage.

      • Sussex Trafalgar says:

        Yes, it is likely Trump would be found guilty in this case. Trump knows that, too. So, he’ll try to destroy Pence, specifically, and all other witnesses with ad hominem personal attacks. If Trump has a witness or two who can testify that Pence was a willing co-conspirator with Trump until Pence got cold feet after speaking to Dan Quayle and Judge Luttig, then Pence’s testimony will create problems for the prosecutors. Trump is hoping for that to happen, along with hoping for a Republican Presidential pardon like Nixon received. Trump also believes Alito, Thomas and the three justices he nominated will overturn any guilty verdict against him on technical grounds.

      • sunflore says:

        “Negotiate” was a wrong word choice.

        In response to your thought provoking comment, trump needs a get out of jail free card… He is a man with no scruples etc. He is talking with the campaign that could most likely win the nomination if he is “indisposed”. My bets are on Nikki Haley…He knows none of his “opponents” couldn’t beat Joe Biden any more than he could and knew, back in ’18

  11. Val Brumel says:

    “The court will determine whether to schedule a hearing to discuss the proposed protective order after reviewing Defendant’s response and, if included, his revised proposed protective order with modifications in redline.”

    Does “if included” imply that if it’s *not* included, Judge Chutkan will simply approve Government’s proposed PO without a hearing? What will she do if they just include their own proposal, the one Smith has already rejected?

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