Judge Chutkan Denies Trump’s Bid to Disavow His Mob

In a short order, Judge Tanya Chutkan denied Trump’s motion to strike all the language about his mob in his indictment. Her order was so short for two reasons: first, Trump hadn’t really addressed the issue of prejudice he was invoking, and second, the only means by which the indictment itself would introduce prejudice — in the jury room — won’t happen because Judge Chutkan never provides the indictment to they jury.

Defendant’s sixteen-page Reply In Support of the Motion, despite making numerous inflammatory and unsupported accusations of its own, see, e.g., ECF No. 156 at 7 (“President Biden directed the Department of Justice to prosecute his leading opponent for the presidency through a calculated leak to the New York Times.”), devotes only a single paragraph to the prejudice requirement. His sole argument is that even if the jury does not receive a copy of the indictment, “[v]oluminous evidence exists here that the jury pool has been, and continues to be, exposed to the Indictment and its inflammatory and prejudicial allegations, through media coverage relating to the case.” Id. at 16. But Defendant fails to cite even one example of that evidence.

Her reference to Trump’s own inflammatory comments called out something that is apparent in reading his reply brief to overturn her gag before the DC Circuit (which largely rehashes the same tired arguments). There, he argues that he has a First Amendment right to say whatever he wants — about Joe Biden, about the trial, about anyone else, including Chutkan, the death threat against whom Trump disclaims any role.

The prosecution describes President Trump’s statement, “If you go after me, I’m coming after you,” as a “public threat,” Resp.Br.4 (citing J.A.79). However, this statement made no reference to this case, and his campaign explained that it was made “in response to … special interest groups and Super PACs.” App.Br.15 n.7. The prosecution ignores this explanation—the only evidence of what the statement was actually referring to—and relies instead on naked speculation.

The prosecution implies that this statement caused a random person to threaten the district judge on August 5, 2023. Resp.Br. 5-6. Again, this is pure speculation, and wrong to boot. As noted above, President Trump’s statements criticizing the district judge came after the August 5 incident. J.A.79-80. The prosecution also cites no evidence that this random individual was inspired to act by President Trump’s August 4th social-media post, which did not even reference this case.

For what it’s worth, while he didn’t mention Trump, the father of Abigail Jo Shry, the woman who called Judge Chutkan’s chambers and threatened her, described that Shry’s threats were always responses to watching the news.

Defendant’s father, Mark Shry testified at the detention hearing. Mr. Shry believes that Defendant is a non-violent alcoholic. He testified that she sits on her couch daily watching the news while drinking too many beers. She then becomes agitated by the news and starts calling people and threatening them. Mr. Shry stated that his daughter never leaves her residence and therefore would not act upon her threats.

Even in his reply brief, though, Trump made new threats, attacking Jack Smith’s spouse because she exercised her political rights to donate to Joe Biden.

Judge Chutkan didn’t quite say it: But Donald Trump is simultaneously claiming he has the right to make any threats he wants, but no one else has the right to describe the way his threats lead to violence.

She didn’t quite say it.

But she did make it quite clear that Trump is trying to have a protected privilege to make inflammatory threats, while gagging others about the effect of them.

65 replies
  1. P’villain says:

    I imagine this issue will arise again, with more specificity, when we get to motions in limine. This halfhearted motion to strike was just a warmup.

  2. harpie says:

    Continuing directly after the first blockquote:

    [CHUTKAN]: In any event, the voir dire process will allow the court to examine and address the effects that pretrial publicity, including any generated by Defendant, has had on the impartiality of potential jurors. When trial begins, the court will also take steps to screen from the jury any irrelevant and prejudicial material that either party seeks to introduce.

  3. harpie says:

    Marcy: Judge Chutkan didn’t quite say it: But Donald Trump is simultaneously claiming he has the right to make any threats he wants, but no one else has the right to describe the way his threats lead to violence.

    Such an important point…Thanks for stating it so plainly.

    • Matt___B says:

      Probably not, but still I’d love to see him spend a weekend, or a night, or 12 hours in jail. Might cleanse his palate just a wee bit. I spent 12 hours in jail once for 2 ignored moving violation traffic tickets. Since my sentence was so short, they let me keep some items on me, namely $45 worth of food stamps, which I lost within the hour in a ping-pong with an inmate…

        • dopefish says:

          Change the dynamics? I doubt it. Trump would fundraise off it, the right wing would froth at the mouth at Democrats’ predictable satisfaction/amusement, and Trump’s chances of winning the general might even slightly increase.

          I want to seem him get some jail time (which I think he amply deserves) but I don’t kid myself that it would improve the dire situation the U.S. finds itself in… probably the opposite. I hope that one of these courts will convict and issue a non-slap-on-the-wrist sentence because I think the U.S. badly needs that, but either way I suspect the next 5+ years are going to be extremely difficult. I hope U.S. democracy survives because the rest of the world needs it (as a challenge, as an example, as an upholder of international rules-based order, and so on). Obviously its not a perfect union but the U.S. is still an inspiration to others around the world. By many measures it has been, and probably can be again, the greatest nation in the world.

  4. Matt Foley says:

    This is why he’s the most hated man in America. He cares only about his rights and not about his responsibilities.

    • sohelpmedog says:

      If only he was, then he wouldn’t have a chance to be elected president. Perhaps you meant ‘if we lived in a sane society, he would be the most hated man in America.’

      • earthworm says:

        chance to be elected president:
        Trump probably does not have a chance to be elected president. However, in our not very distant past someone else who was not elected president was SELECTED president.
        It still stings and rankles, since it has led our country to where it is today and we still suffer from that egregious administration’s actions to eviscerate the rule of law and weaponize government.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      That brings to mind a different, but more likely consultation: one’s former spouse taking intimacy tips from one’s current spouse.

  5. Peterr says:

    Gotta love brevity.

    Chutkin disposed of Trump’s 16 page motion — and made the point Marcy noticed at the end of the post — by reducing the actual argument to a single paragraph and then politely drop-kicked it to the curb in a mere three pages. One paragraph to summarize the motion, one paragraph to lay out the relevant portions of the Federal Rules of Procedure, and two paragraphs of deft dismemberment of Team Trump’s claims when the latter is applied to the former.

    Beyond ruling against Trump, this kind of to-the-point ruling is judge-speak for “Don’t waste my time.”

  6. Matt Foley says:

    “[v]oluminous evidence exists here that the jury pool has been, and continues to be, exposed to the Indictment and its inflammatory and prejudicial allegations, through media coverage relating to the case.”

    But not
    “[v]oluminous evidence exists here that the jury pool has been, and continues to be, exposed to Trump and his inflammatory and prejudicial allegations, through media coverage relating to the case.”

    I can’t find the words to express my hatred for this “man”.

  7. sohelpmedog says:

    I think you’ve expressed your hatred pretty clearly. You’re gonna give yourself a stroke. Chill out and save some of that energy for giving out the vote.

    [Moderator’s note: First, slow down and pay more attention to where you have placed your reply. This is not attached to a previous comment but appears aimed at Marcy because you did not hit the Reply button in the correct location. Second, let’s avoid policing other commenters unless they’ve done something more egregious than vent their spleen, as oxygen-sucking as it is. /~Rayne]

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump’s reply brief before the DC Circuit, appealing Judge Chutkan’s gag order, is his typical piece of work. I continue to marvel that it took SIX lawyers from three firms, none of them based in DC, to create this fantasy of an argument.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        DJT tries hard not to pay his bills, and never at 100 cents on the dollar. The problem of those lawyers who sign on, even with cash up front, is that running out of cash in a criminal trial is not a reason to permit them to withdraw. So the retainer, a la Chris Kise’s $3 million, has to be a big one. Then there’s that he never cooperates, wants to be his own lawyer, and dances with lying under oath every time he opens his mouth.

        Most big lawyers with the experience he needs probably think representing him ain’t worth the bother.

      • Rugger_9 says:

        One wonders whether there is scuttlebutt in legal circles about Defendant-1’s bill-paying habits. IIRC the current crop is paid using other peoples’ money, and before that included the government.

        If you aren’t going to get paid you aren’t going to take the job if you have a choice.

        I also think that as usual Chutkan’s clear reasoning will stand up in the inevitable appeal.

      • Fraud Guy says:

        Veritably, I believe Trump shops at Whizzo Chocolate Company for his attorneys:

        “Inspector: Now what about this one, number five, it was number five, wasn’t it? Number five: Ram’s Bladder Cup. Now, what sort of confectionery is that?
        Mr. Hilton: Oh, we use only the finest juicy chunks of fresh Cornish Ram’s bladder, emptied, steamed, flavoured with sesame seeds, whipped into a fondue, and garnished with lark’s vomit.
        Inspector: LARK’S VOMIT?!?!?
        Mr. Hilton: Correct.
        Inspector: It doesn’t say anything here about lark’s vomit!
        Mr. Hilton: Ah, it does, on the bottom of the box, after ‘monosodium glutamate’.”

  9. GinnyRED57 says:

    Interesting detail about Abigail Fry. Her dad describes her couch-sitting, drunk-dialing, News-junkie behavior, and I wonder how much of Trump’s base fit that description.

    • Tracy Lynn says:

      I keep thinking about Abigail Fry. How do people not affiliated with a courthouse even get the telephone numbers of a judge’s chambers? Is there that much public info out there so that someone could get that close to a judge? I’ve never tried contacting a judge, obvs.

      • P J Evans says:

        I’ve only known one judge, and the reason I had the house phone number was that I did things like help with their computer. Unpaid.

      • fatvegan000 says:

        Figures in Trumpworld with the resources publish Trump’s “enemies” names, numbers – and sometimes even where they live – with the intent of making it easy for his followers to harass them.

      • bmaz says:

        It is a public office, you can get that number if you need it. And federal judges are just people. If you know where to go, you can eat and drink with them. They are humans. Don’t forget that part. I even bought a used car from one.

      • justlp34 says:

        My sister is a judge. She has her address, phone numbers, etc. specially hidden from all kinds of places somehow through the state. Her house was firebombed once before it was hidden. Thankfully the people who did it were not especially bright.

  10. William Pelerin says:

    Isn’t there value in filing such motions, even if they are denied, because it will be ammunition for the appeals process.

    • Ebenezer Scrooge says:

      Not really. Risible arguments are like bad tenants–they make life difficult for good arguments in their neighborhood. In federal court, you usually can’t take appeal issue by issue–all your arguments are packaged together.
      I’ve looked at some of the briefs in this case (not this one), and a lot of the stuff in them seems intended to make Trump feel good, not persuade the judge. All lawyers will posture a bit to impress their clients, but they know that their credibility with the judge is more important, so tone it down.

  11. dopefish says:

    Sort of OT:
    Yesterday, an appeals court paused Judge Engoron’s gag order preventing Team Trump from attacking any of his court staff. (“Judge David Friedman of the appellate division’s first department ruled from the bench after a brief oral argument.”)

    Around an hour later, Team Trump had resumed publically attacking his court staff.

    Aside… I’ve never understood why Trump supporters think of him as a winner, or a “macho man” or any of that stuff. Aside from his multiple bankruptcies, being a repeat loser of elections, Trump whines and complains more than any other public figure I can think of. Since when is whining in public about your opponent the way to win an argument? It would be pathetic, and I might even feel some pity towards him, if his unrestrained narcissism and authoritarian tendencies weren’t so dangerous to the rest of the world.

    • wa_rickf says:

      I know of no ‘macho man’ that spends four hours in hair and make-up each day, as some claim Mr. Trump does.

      Nor do I know any ‘macho man’ who whines and complains like a spoiled eight year old brat.

      • Max404Droid says:

        I have often suspected Trump suffers from BDD, Body dysmorphic disorder.


        Whether the physical issue is real or imagined, ruminations concerning this perceived defect become pervasive and intrusive, consuming substantial mental bandwidth for extended periods each day. This excessive preoccupation not only induces severe emotional distress but also disrupts daily functioning and activities.

        It is extraordinarily painful. And those around (in this case the whole frigging world) are often pulled into the sphere of suffering.

        • Fancy Chicken says:

          Trump has been particularly orange of late in the close ups I’ve seen of him from his rallies and in court in NYC. It seems to be particularly ill applied like bad kabuki face paint along his hairline, ears and neck.

          He has also gone back to dying his hair a brassy yellow.

          I wonder what that indicates mentally.

          And I’ve never understood how the redneck manly man coalition would vote for a man wearing makeup and badly done at that.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          I don’t think it’s BDD. What terrifies Trump is time and his own aging process, something removing him ever-further visually from his Apprentice image (already false itself) and a sign of the weakness he can’t admit. The older he gets and the more his face sinks into its own flesh and scowl, the more frantic his cosmetic efforts to persuade us that he’s not subject to decay or death.

          Along with the hair and makeup he has conducted a relentless quest to purge authentic images of himself from the public domain. Trump desperately doesn’t want his followers to know what he really looks like, just as he doesn’t want them to think him a “fraud.”

          The emperor: in his mind, his clothes are brand-new, and they fit the body of an Adonis like the proverbial glove.

    • earthworm says:

      along with the makeup and female Barbie props, what about mentioning the cognitive dissonance among supporters of Trump, the ‘macho man,’ in allowing him, aka Corporal Bonespurs, to get away with his recent, “our veterans” coded language?

      • dopefish says:

        Trump’s treatment of veterans, and lack of respect for the sacrifices and strong principles of U.S. military members is another thing that baffles me about his right-wing supporters. I used to think Republicans loved the military?

        From McCain, to Gold Star families through to current day—calling for Milley to be executed—Trump consistently shows disregard for or even contempt for, those who have faithfully served their country and often paid a high price for doing so. His treatment of them is contemptible and inexcusable, and yet (like so many other things) Trump supporters can rationalize it away so easily.

        Character matters, and it especially matters when selecting your leader who will ultimately be the Commander in Chief and will hold the codes for launching nuclear weapons. I hope someday those ~40% of Americans who seem to have forgotten this, will come around. If Trump had been president while Putin launched his full-scale invasion of Ukraine, would Trump have rallied Europe’s leaders to present a united NATO front against Russia, while avoiding escalation to WW3? If Trump had been president when Hamas launched its attack on Israel, would the Middle East conflict still be contained within Gaza or would the entire region be at war right now?

        If Trump had been president when COVID pandemic hit—oh wait a sec, he was, and his execrable handling of it allowed over 1 million Americans to die from it.

  12. David F. Snyder says:

    “But Defendant fails to cite even one example of that evidence.” That describes Trump’s M.O. perfectly:

    No evidence that Hillary was a crook; no evidence of election interference; no evidence for inflated family business property values; no evidence there was ever a tax audit; no evidence he’s a good businessman; …

    • SteveBev says:

      “A lot of people tell me …”
      “Many people say…”
      “Lots of people believe the election was Rigged and Stollen..”

      Only Trump hating Democrats RINOs and deranged prosecutors shut their eyes to the TRUTH

  13. Zinsky123 says:

    Another great thread – TY. Your last sentence alone sums up the hypocrisy of DJT and his followers. The willful blindness of the mob in ignoring how he tramples on others rights, while constantly wailing their grievances about his rights being infringed, will be studied by social scientists for decades to come. I guess it is just one more hallmark of a cult.

  14. MsJennyMD says:

    “My motto is: Always get even. When somebody screws you, screw them back in spades.”
    ― Donald Trump, Think Big: Make It Happen in Business and Life

    “If you have laws that you don’t enforce, then you don’t have laws. This leads to lawlessness.”
    ― Donald J. Trump, Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again

  15. 2Cats2Furious says:

    I’ve read most of the filings/orders in the DC case. Reading the latest filings – the bombastic response to the media’s request to televise the trial, the reply to the motion to strike that led to Judge Chutkan’s quick denial discussed in this article, the appeal of the limited gag order – it is clear that these are not serious legal filings.

    They may *look* like legal filings, but they are predominantly filled with incendiary, evidence-free allegations, claims of political persecution, and inapposite legal citations. They are meant to please an audience of one – Trump – not to convince Judge Chutkan or the appellate panel on the actual merits. They are political claptrap, not serious legal arguments.

    Trump’s attorneys are an embarrassment to the profession, but I guess we shouldn’t have expected better, given what a nightmare of a client he must be.

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