Former President Donald Trump‘s recent suggestion that retired U.S. Army General Mark Milley should be executed for “treason” has been cited by Special Counsel Jack Smith as another reason to grant a gag order in Trump’s federal election interference trial.
In a Truth Social post last week, Trump said that Americans should “celebrate” Milley’s impending retirement as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He then said that the general would have been executed for treason in “times gone by” due to reports that Milley called his Chinese counterpart in 2020, promising to warn China if Trump launched an attack.
Smith, who asked U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan to apply a “narrowly tailored” gag order to Trump in a motion filed earlier this month, cited the post in a new court filing on Friday as an example of the ex-president’s propensity to make “public statements about witnesses” that could taint the jury pool and “materially prejudice a fair trial.”
“On September 22, on Truth Social, the defendant falsely claimed that the retiring Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a witness cited in the indictment, had committed treason and suggested that he should be executed,” Smith’s filing states, while sharing a screenshot of Trump’s post.
Newsweek reached out for comment to Trump’s office via email on Friday night.
Smith’s filing was in response to a filing from Trump’s legal team earlier this week. Trump’s team argued on Monday that Chutkan should not grant the gag order, claiming that it was “nothing more than an obvious attempt by the Biden Administration to unlawfully silence its most prominent political opponent.”
The filing on Friday rejects that argument, with Smith writing that Trump is demanding “special treatment” and “free rein to publicly intimidate witnesses and malign the Court, citizens of this District, and prosecutors” due to his status as the leading Republican candidate in the 2024 presidential election.
“But in this case, Donald J. Trump is a criminal defendant like any other,” Smith writes. “The defendant should not be permitted to continue to try this case in the court of public opinion rather than in the court of law, and thereby undermine the fairness and integrity of this proceeding.”
Trump has pleaded not guilty to all four felony charges in the D.C. case and to 87 additional felonies across his three other criminal indictments. He has repeatedly claimed that all of his legal troubles amount to “election interference” and political “persecution.”
Milley, who is stepping down from his Trump-appointed role as the nation’s highest-ranking military officer on Sunday, said this week that he had taken “safety precautions” to protect himself and his family in light of the former president’s suggestion that he should face the death penalty.
The general also suggested that Trump was a “wannabe dictator” while delivering his retirement speech on Friday, prompting the ex-president to respond by making an additional disparaging Truth Social post about him soon afterward.
The execution comment was far from the only reason cited by Smith for granting the gag order. The special counsel’s original filing outlines a “pattern” of threats from Trump, with Smith suggesting that Trump’s public statements and social media activity may be encouraging his supporters to further “perpetrate threats and harassment against his targets.”