It was a routine part of a federal court hearing: The defendant was told not to discuss the case with any witnesses without lawyers present.
But there’s nothing routine about this case. The defendant is Donald Trump, accused of orchestrating a conspiracy to overturn the results of the 2020 election. The potential witness pool is vast and includes members of the former president’s inner circle deeply involved in his reelection campaign, including some currently on his payroll. His lies about the election — which form the basis of the charges — are repeated in nearly every speech he gives.
“The standard language may not work here, when you have thousands of Americans who could be witnesses and he continues to have daily contact with people who may be involved,” said Laurie Levenson, a law professor at Loyola Law School of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. “Everything is more complicated in this case because of who the defendant is, what he has done and that he wants to be president again.”
A test for Trump may come as early as Friday. He is attending the Alabama Republican Party’s annual Summer Dinner. On Saturday he will deliver the keynote speech at the South Carolina GOP’s 56th Annual Silver Elephant Gala.
As his campaign unfolds, the potential witness pool in his latest case is very broad. The congressional hearings on the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot could offer some insight — those interviews spanned more than 1,000 people, and included some of Trump’s closest advisers and family members, including his daughter Ivanka and his son Donald Trump Jr.
So it’s possible he may already be talking about the case in front of witnesses.