Apparent ‘Swatting’ Incidents Target Judge and Prosecutor in Trump Election Case

Apparent ‘Swatting’ Incidents Target Judge and Prosecutor in Trump Election Case

Police officers and emergency personnel were sent on Sunday night to the Washington home of the federal judge overseeing former President Donald J. Trump’s election interference case in what appeared to be an incident of “swatting,” according to three people familiar with the matter.

The police and fire vehicles were responding to a report that a shooting had occurred at the home of the judge, Tanya S. Chutkan, who has been handling the criminal case accusing Mr. Trump of plotting to overturn the 2020 election, the people said. According to an incident report released by Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department that did not name Judge Chutkan, officers were “advised that she was not injured and that there was no one in her home” when they arrived at the house around 10 p.m. Sunday.

The episode at Judge Chutkan’s house came two weeks after the special counsel, Jack Smith, who filed the election subversion indictment against Mr. Trump, was the victim of a swatting incident at his home in Maryland, according to a person familiar with the situation. On Christmas Day, someone called the police in Montgomery County and filed a false report that Mr. Smith had shot his wife, the person said. The swatting of Mr. Smith was reported earlier by NBC News.

Swatting is the colloquial term for filing false reports to the police to set off a threatening or potentially dangerous response by officers. Incidents of swatting have become more common in recent years and have been used against various politicians and public figures.

. There have been no arrests yet in connection with the incidents, and it was unclear whether they were related to the election interference case. But they were a reminder of the potential threats faced by people involved in the various criminal cases against Mr. Trump.

The incident involving Judge Chutkan took place two days before a crucial appeals court hearing concerning Mr. Trump’s claim that he is immune from prosecution in the case because the charges arose from actions he took while he was in the White House.

In July 2022, another federal judge in Washington, Emmet G. Sullivan, also had the police called to his house in what appeared to be a swatting incident. That episode took place the night before Judge Sullivan was set to preside over a hearing where Anthime Gionet, a far-right activist nicknamed “Baked Alaska,” was set to plead guilty in connection with the Capitol attack.

Both Judge Chutkan and Mr. Smith have faced threats in the past related to their work on Mr. Trump’s criminal case, which has been unfolding in Federal District Court in Washington.

In August, just days after Mr. Trump was indicted, a woman left a voice mail message for Judge Chutkan, who is Black, in her chambers in Washington, using a racial slur and threatening to kill her.

“If Trump doesn’t get elected in 2024, we are coming to kill you, so tread lightly,” the woman said in the message, adding, “You will be targeted personally, publicly, your family, all of it.”

The message for Judge Chutkan was left only one day after Mr. Trump had posted his own menacing, albeit cryptic, statement on social media. “IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU!” he wrote. (His campaign later said his words were not directed against anyone involved in the election interference case.)

A Texas woman, Abigail Jo Shry, was eventually arrested and is facing prosecution there.

Mr. Trump has relentlessly gone after Mr. Smith in social media posts, describing him as a “thug” and as “deranged.” Prosecutors have said that he has experienced threats from others without being specific about their nature.

In September, the prosecutors mentioned the threats against Judge Chutkan and Mr. Smith in their request to Judge Chutkan to impose a gag order on the former president. The prosecutors cited several other instances of Mr. Trump verbally attacking people involved in the cases he is facing, arguing that his remarks online often had real-world consequences.

Judge Chutkan ultimately imposed the gag order, but permitted Mr. Trump to say what he liked about her. A federal appeals court later upheld the order, but narrowed its terms to allow Mr. Trump, among other things, to attack Mr. Smith as well.

Charlie Savage contributed reporting.

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