Prosecutors Seek to Bar Trump From Attacking F.B.I. Agents in Documents Case

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Federal prosecutors on Friday night asked the judge overseeing former President Donald J. Trump’s classified documents case to bar him from making any statements that might endanger law enforcement agents involved in the proceedings.

Prosecutors tendered the request after Mr. Trump made what they described as “grossly misleading” assertions about the F.B.I.’s August 2022 search of Mar-a-Lago, his private club and residence in Florida. This week, the former president falsely suggested that the F.B.I. had been authorized to shoot him when agents discovered more than 100 classified documents while executing a court-approved search warrant there.

In a social media post on Tuesday, Mr. Trump falsely claimed that President Biden “authorized the FBI to use deadly (lethal) force” during the search.

Mr. Trump’s post came in reaction to an F.B.I. operational plan for the Mar-a-Lago search that was unsealed on Tuesday as part of a legal motion filed by Mr. Trump’s lawyers. The plan contained a boilerplate reference to lethal force being authorized in cases of emergency, which prosecutors said that Mr. Trump badly distorted.

“As Trump is well aware, the F.B.I. took extraordinary care to execute the search warrant unobtrusively and without needless confrontation,” prosecutors wrote in a motion to Judge Aileen M. Cannon, who is overseeing the classified documents case.

“They scheduled the search of Mar-a-Lago for a time when he and his family would be away,” the prosecutors added. “They planned to coordinate with Trump’s attorney, Secret Service agents and Mar-a-Lago staff before and during the execution of the warrant; and they planned for contingencies — which, in fact, never came to pass — about with whom to communicate if Trump were to arrive on the scene.”

The request to Judge Cannon was the first time that prosecutors in the office of the special counsel, Jack Smith, have sought to restrict Mr. Trump’s public statements in the classified documents case. But Mr. Trump, who has repeatedly attacked witnesses, court officials and others in his four criminal proceedings, is under gag orders in two of his other three cases.

Prosecutors did not seek to impose a gag order on Mr. Trump in the classified documents case, but instead asked Judge Cannon to revise his conditions of release to forbid him to make any public comments “that pose a significant, imminent and foreseeable danger to law enforcement agents participating in the investigation.”

Still, if Judge Cannon agrees to the request, it would mean that Mr. Trump could be placed in custody were he to violate the revised conditions.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers objected to the request and complained that it had been made on a holiday weekend, according to the motion filed by prosecutors. The lawyers did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Mr. Smith’s team in recent days has been showing signs of losing patience with Mr. Trump and his lawyers. And the former president’s “intentionally false and inflammatory statements” about the Mar-a-Lago search, as prosecutors put it, appeared to cross a line, requiring a serious response.

As a preliminary matter, prosecutors explained in their motion to Judge Cannon that the lethal force language that Mr. Trump had twisted was a “standard and unobjectionable” provision routinely used in “countless warrants across the country.”

The measure explicitly sets forth that deadly force is prohibited except in cases of “imminent danger of death or serious physical injury” and is included in warrants to restrict the use of weapons during searches.

But prosecutors said Mr. Trump had “grossly distorted these standard practices by mischaracterizing them as a plan to kill him, his family and U.S. Secret Service agents.”

By falsely suggesting that F.B.I. agents “were complicit in a plot to assassinate him,” prosecutors wrote, Mr. Trump exposed them “to the risk of threats, violence and harassment.”

“Those deceptive and inflammatory assertions irresponsibly put a target on the backs of the F.B.I. agents involved in this case, as Trump well knows,” prosecutors wrote.

To bolster their point, prosecutors reminded Judge Cannon that days after the search of Mar-a-Lago — a legal investigative step that Mr. Trump condemned on social media as an attack against him — an armed man in Ohio tried to shoot his way into an F.B.I. field office near Cincinnati.

The man, Ricky W. Shiffer, had said at the time that “patriots” should head to Florida to defend Mr. Trump and kill F.B.I. agents. Mr. Shiffer was ultimately killed in a shootout with the local police.

Mr. Trump is already facing a gag order in another federal case in Washington, where he stands accused of plotting to overturn the 2020 election. That case has been on hold for months as the Supreme Court considers Mr. Trump’s claim that he is immune to the charges because they arose from actions he took while he was president.

Mr. Trump is also under a gag order in his state trial in Manhattan, where he has been charged with covering up a hush money payment to a porn star made on the eve of the 2016 election. The judge overseeing that proceeding has twice held Mr. Trump in contempt and fined him $10,000 for threatening witnesses and jurors in the case.