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Trump attorneys near deadline to respond to prosecutors' request for protective order

SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

Former President Donald Trump's lawyers have until 5 p.m. today to respond to a request from prosecutors.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Yeah. The prosecutors want a protective order. They have to share evidence with the defendant as he prepares for a conspiracy trial for trying to overturn his defeat in the 2020 election. What they don't want is Trump spreading sensitive information in speeches or on social media.

MCCAMMON: Franco Ordoñez covers Trump and the White House and has been covering all of this. Hi, Franco.

FRANCO ORDOÑEZ, BYLINE: Hey, Sarah.

MCCAMMON: So first, what does a protective order mean in this case?

ORDOÑEZ: Yeah. I mean, it's kind of like what Steve said. I mean, the order specifically seeks to - stops Trump from sharing protected info - and his legal team. We're talking about things like grand jury testimony, info about witnesses.

MCCAMMON: And how is Trump's team responding to all of this?

ORDOÑEZ: Well, I mean, the two sides were trading legal barbs over the weekend, and it's pretty common in criminal cases to keep sensitive information under wraps. But Trump's attorney, John Lauro, said on CNN that they will fight the order.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOHN LAURO: The press and the American people in a campaign season have a right to know what the evidence is in this case, provided that this evidence is not protected otherwise.

ORDOÑEZ: Sarah, though, prosecutors do have a lot of concerns. I mean, they say Trump has already made public statements about judges and attorneys in the case, and they worry that sharing more info could have a, quote, "chilling effect" on witnesses or impact justice being carried out in the case fairly.

MCCAMMON: So they're trying to keep Trump quiet. You know, in making this request, prosecutors have noted a Truth Social post that Trump shared on Friday where he said, if you go after me, I'm coming after you. Franco, how does that play into all this?

ORDOÑEZ: I mean, it shows that Trump is not afraid to attack his opponents. He's got a huge megaphone, and he has no hesitation of using it. And it's tricky for prosecutors. And it shows how extraordinary this case is. Considering the highly sensitive nature of what's at stake, prosecutors are worried, and there really is so much unpredictability. And we should remember that the whole classified documents case, the other case, is based on alleged indiscretion of national secrets.

MCCAMMON: Now, one of the key figures, and I think one of the really interesting figures in all of this, of course, is former Vice President Mike Pence, who, as we know, is also running for president. What's he been saying about this case?

ORDOÑEZ: Yeah. A number of the Republican candidates have been careful about not wanting to alienate Trump's base. But on this issue, January 6, Pence has been talking tough and casting himself as defending the Constitution. Here he is on CBS's "Face The Nation."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FACE THE NATION")

MIKE PENCE: Our Constitution is more important than any one man, and our country's more important than any one man's career. And, you know, I'm running because - not just I kept faith in the Constitution every day for those four years, but also because this country is in a lot of trouble.

ORDOÑEZ: You know, at the same time, though, he's also claiming that the Justice Department is politicized. You know, Pence has yet to qualify for the upcoming Republican debate. So he really needs to make some bold moves if he wants to get up on that stage. So that might be some of this.

MCCAMMON: Right. And we're expecting a more formal response from Trump's legal team today. Do we expect them to drag this out?

ORDOÑEZ: I mean, the goal for Trump's team from the start has been delay, delay, delay. And they do want to stretch this out as long as possible, possibly until after the 2024 election. But the special counsel, Jack Smith, wants a trial as soon as possible. I really expect to see this kind of push and pull over the pace of the case to be, really, a centerpiece of this going forward.

MCCAMMON: That's Franco Ordoñez, who covers Trump and the White House. Thanks so much, Franco.

ORDOÑEZ: Thank you, Sarah. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Sarah McCammon
Sarah McCammon is a National Correspondent covering the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast for NPR. Her work focuses on political, social and cultural divides in America, including abortion and reproductive rights, and the intersections of politics and religion. She's also a frequent guest host for NPR news magazines, podcasts and special coverage.
Franco Ordoñez is a White House Correspondent for NPR's Washington Desk. Before he came to NPR in 2019, Ordoñez covered the White House for McClatchy. He has also written about diplomatic affairs, foreign policy and immigration, and has been a correspondent in Cuba, Colombia, Mexico and Haiti.