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Manhattan DA's office asks judge not to let Trump use criminal case evidence publicly

The Manhattan District Attorney's Office noted the former president's "longstanding and perhaps singular history" of attacks against witnesses, court personnel and investigators involved in legal proceedings against him.
Image: Former President Donald Trump sits at the defense table with his defense team in a Manhattan court on April 4, 2023, in New York.
Former President Donald Trump, with his defense team in a Manhattan court on April 4. Seth Wenig / AP file

Prosecutors in the Manhattan district attorney’s office on Tuesday asked the judge overseeing the criminal case against former President Donald Trump for a protective order to prevent him from publicly using some of the evidence in the investigation.

In a motion filed by Assistant District Attorney Catherine McCaw, prosecutors asked the judge to ensure that discovery materials in the case can be used by the defense only for trial, and that Trump can view evidence only in the presence of his lawyers.

McCaw argued that “safeguards that will protect the integrity of the materials” are needed because the “risk” that Trump will use them “inappropriately is substantial.”

“Donald J. Trump has a longstanding and perhaps singular history of attacking witnesses, investigators, prosecutors, trial jurors, grand jurors, judges, and others involved in legal proceedings against him, putting those individuals and their families at considerable safety risk,” McCaw wrote, citing Trump’s attacks against his former personal attorney Michael Cohen and a former national security official, Alexander Vindman, both of whom testified against Trump in the past.

Trump, McCaw said, has already begun mounting similar attacks in the criminal case, noting his public attacks against witnesses as well as Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, the DA’s office personnel and the court. She also pointed to a separate federal investigation that Trump is under for allegedly mishandling classified documents, which she said shows a “pattern” that “gives rise to significant concern that Defendant will similarly misuse grand jury and other sensitive materials here.”

McCaw said prosecutors initially sought to negotiate terms of a protective order with the defense, who indicated they would not consent to it. She made clear that prosecutors are not seeking a gag order at this time. “Defendant has a constitutional right to speak publicly about this case, and the People do not seek to infringe upon that right,” she wrote.

In response to NBC News' request for comment, Trump attorney Susan Necheles said the defense would be filing a response to the prosecutors' request next week but provided no further details.

Trump pleaded not guilty this month before a judge in Manhattan to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records related to hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels and another woman toward the end of his 2016 presidential campaign to prevent them from speaking about their allegations of affairs with him. Trump’s indictment was the first time a former president has been charged with a crime. Trump has denied the alleged affairs.