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May 26, 2024

Federal prosecutors call Trump’s Jan. 6 committee subpoena efforts a ‘fishing expedition’

Federal prosecutors call Trump’s Jan. 6 committee subpoena efforts a ‘fishing expedition’

Federal prosecutors filed a flurry of motions Wednesday night in the election interference case against Donald Trump, arguing against the former president’s efforts to extend a pause on a gag order and his attempts to subpoena what he claims are “missing” House Jan. 6 committee records.

In one of the filings, special counsel Jack Smith’s office said it opposed extending a freeze on the gag order U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan of Washington, D.C., initially imposed on Trump. She temporarily lifted the gag order last week to give the parties more time to brief her on Trump’s request to keep the order on hold while he appeals it.

Prosecutors argued Wednesday that Trump “has failed to show either a substantial likelihood of success on the merits, or that the public interest weighs in favor of a stay.”

They highlighted Trump’s “prejudicial and threatening” posts on Truth Social shortly after ABC News cited multiple sources saying former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows had testified in the case in exchange for an immunity deal.

In one post, Trump wrote: “Some people would make that deal, but they are weaklings and cowards, and so bad for the future our Failing Nation. I don’t think that Mark Meadows is one of them, but who really knows?”

Prosecutors argued that Trump was “targeting a known witness in this case in an attempt to influence and intimidate him” and requested that the stay on the gag order be lifted and modified to protect witnesses from attacks.

NBC News has not confirmed the ABC News report. Reached for comment Tuesday, Meadows attorney George Terwilliger said: “I told ABC that their story was largely inaccurate. People will have to judge for themselves the decision to run it anyway.”

In a separate filing Wednesday night, prosecutors opposed Trump’s attempts to subpoena House records in connection with the congressional investigation into the Jan. 6 riot.

Specifically, they called the subpoena effort a “fishing expedition” and asked Chutkan to deny his motion seeking archived materials from the probe from various people and entities.

“The defendant’s motion is wholly unnecessary: the Government already provided the defendant in discovery the Select Committee records that he identifies with any specificity,” federal prosecutors wrote.

An attorney for Trump declined to comment Wednesday night.

Trump’s attorneys said this month that they wanted to subpoena the Committee on House Administration, which was tasked with archiving and preserving records transferred by the former House Jan. 6 committee, and other entities involved with handling the investigative materials.

In that filing, Trump’s attorneys proposed seven subpoenas, whose recipients included former House Jan. 6 committee chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., arguing that there are “certain missing records” that could be relevant to Trump’s defense.

The subpoenas would include a request for “video recordings” of witness interviews. Rep. Barry Loudermilk of Georgia, a Republican on the House Administration Committee, wrote in a letter in June that only written transcripts were transferred after the Jan. 6 committee concluded and that “video recordings of transcribed interviews and depositions, which featured prominently during the Select Committee’s hearings, were not archived or transferred.”

Prosecutors said Wednesday that the government had produced documents that included the sensitive, nonpublic transcripts sought by Trump “more than two months ago” and that he had not requested additional information or clarification about those materials at the time.

“Had he done so, the Government would have directed him to the relevant discovery productions that obviate the need for his proposed subpoenas,” they wrote.

The other filing by prosecutors Wednesday night focused on jury procedures in the election interference case that’s scheduled to go to trial in March. Both parties have largely been in agreement about using written questionnaires during the jury selection process.

Zoë Richards

Zoë Richards is the evening politics reporter for NBC News.

Michael Kosnar

Michael Kosnar is a Justice Department producer for the NBC News Washington Bureau.

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