In a filing, special counsel Jack Smith argued Donald Trump’s statements exposed federal agents to risk. Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post

Special counsel Jack Smith filed court papers Friday asking a judge to order Donald Trump not to make any further incendiary claims suggesting that FBI agents were “complicit in a plot to assassinate him.”

In the filing to U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon, Smith argues Trump’s statements earlier this week exposed FBI agents involved in the case “to the risk of threats, violence, and harassment.”

The request caps a tumultuous week in the former president’s far-reaching legal battles. He is preparing for closing arguments Tuesday in his trial in New York, and has made incendiary claims about the origins of the case against him in Florida for allegedly mishandling classified documents and obstructing government efforts to retrieve them.

The new filing underscores the intensity of the fear inside federal law enforcement agencies that someone may take inspiration from Trump’s invective and attack FBI or Justice Department personnel.

The late Friday filing came in response to a number of statements from Trump or his campaign, including a fundraising appeal that screamed “Biden’s DOJ was authorized to shoot me!”

The claim by Trump and his supporters that FBI agents searched Trump’s home in 2022 with specific authorization to use deadly force is based on the revelation in court papers this week that the bureau used a standard FBI document during the search of Mar-a-Lago. The document explains long-standing FBI policies; much like police officers, FBI agents are essentially always authorized to use deadly force when it is necessary and legally justified, and when they are operating in the United States.


Trump and his supporters seized on some of the paperwork surrounding the August 2022 search at Mar-a-Lago for classified documents to argue that government agents were secretly trying or hoping to use lethal force against him.

In fact, people familiar with the investigation have previously told The Washington Post that the FBI deliberately chose to conduct the search at a time when Trump was not there, and some of their planning took into account a desire to avoid any confrontation or confusion with the Secret Service agents who were assigned to secure his home. These people spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal deliberations.

Trump and some of his supporters, including right-wing podcaster Stephen K. Bannon, have tried to make the search sound like some sort of aspirational assassination plot.

“It’s just been revealed that Biden’s DOJ was authorized to use DEADLY FORCE for their DESPICABLE raid in Mar-a-Lago,” Trump declared in a fundraising appeal this week. “You know that they’re just itching to do the unthinkable.”

In the new court filing, Smith asks Cannon “to make clear that (Trump) may not make statements that pose a significant, imminent, and foreseeable danger to law enforcement agents participating in the investigation and prosecution of this case,” adding that a warning from the court is necessary because of “several intentionally false and inflammatory statements recently made by Trump that distort the circumstances under which the Federal Bureau of Investigation planned and executed the search warrant at Mar-a-Lago.”

Smith’s filing notes that prosecutors contacted Trump’s lawyers but his lawyers “do not believe that there is any imminent danger, and asked to meet and confer next Monday.”

While facing four separate indictments, and on trial in New York, Trump has been subject to several court orders limiting his public statements, because of false claims he has made against court personnel, relatives of court personnel, witnesses and others connected to his cases.

Smith’s new request does not explicitly seek a gag order, but the kind of warning he describes would serve much the same function.

“A restriction prohibiting future similar statements does not restrict legitimate speech,” the special counsel wrote. “Trump’s conditions of release should therefore be modified to prohibit similar communications going forward.”

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