Takeaways from Monday’s big hearings in the Trump classified documents case

During a long day of hearings in Fort Pierce, Florida, Judge Aileen Cannon challenged prosecutors from special counsel Jack Smith’s team to show how former President Donald Trump’s repeated comments about the FBI translated into a threat against law enforcement officers.

The special counsel’s office says that a gag order is needed because Trump has repeatedly, and misleadingly, alleged that the agents who searched his Mar-a-Lago estate in 2022 were authorized to murder him.

Cannon did not seem inclined to approve the limitations on Trump’s speech but did not immediately issue a ruling.

The judge also heard arguments on Trump’s long-shot motion alleging that the special counsel’s office is being improperly funded. She did not rule on that motion either.

Here’s what to know from Monday’s hearings:

Cannon is skeptical of a gag order

Cannon showed some skepticism toward prosecutors’ arguments, asking where they saw a call to violence in Trump’s comments and saying that they had needed to show some connecting facts between what the former president has said and the threats they are warning about.

Cannon said that the statute prosecutors are citing for the gag order “still requires a finding” related to the potential risks to others, noting that prosecutors don’t need a direct cause.

“There still needs to be a factual connection between A and B,” Cannon said of the bridge between Trump’s comments and potential threats.

Prosecutor David Harbach responded that other posts and comments by Trump “ultimately result in all types of terrible things,” including threats or harassment of law enforcement.

He said that while Trump is welcome to campaign, there should be certain limits when it comes to the safety of FBI agents on the case.

Judge dresses down prosecutor

Cannon repeatedly sparred with Harbach, who she said was being snippy during his arguments.

First, Cannon dressed down the prosecutor for his lack of “decorum” while addressing her.

Harbach had seemingly become irritated at Cannon’s detailed questions.

Cannon quickly stopped Harbach, telling him, “I don’t appreciate your tone.” She added that she would “appreciate decorum at all times” and said, “If you aren’t able to do that, I’m sure one of your colleagues can take up arguing this motion.”

“Yes, your honor,” Harbach replied.

The judge also slammed Harbach for not providing evidence of other court rulings on gag orders against Trump, despite referring to those orders in their arguments.

Harbach later apologized to Cannon, saying, “I didn’t mean to be unprofessional. I’m sorry about that.”

Trump accuses Smith of trying to punish him for others’ actions

Trump’s defense attorney Todd Blanche said Monday that there were no threats to FBI agents in Trump’s email or social media posts cited by the government, and argued the Justice Department was trying to punish Trump for other people’s comments.

“The attacks, very clearly, are against President Biden,” Blanche said of Trump’s communications at issue.

Blanche acknowledged that the DOJ’s “deadly force” policy in place for the Mar-a-Lago search was standard for the execution of such search warrants but said that “It doesn’t mean that it was right” for agents to have been armed during the search (as they normally are).

The defense attorney also said that prosecutors were trying to set a “dangerous precedent” by changing the former president’s conditions of release. He said that prosecutors are too vaguely defining what a threat is, making any potential new rules difficult to follow and potentially making him liable for other peoples’ comments.

“Steve Bannon making a comment is potentially the kind of thing that could send President Trump to jail,” Blanche said.

Cannon has tough questions on how special counsel’s office is funded

In the morning session, though the judge was careful to say her questions shouldn’t imply she was leaning one way, Cannon pushed Justice Department attorney James Pearce to explain how much money the department has used for its work in the Trump criminal cases.

The judge noted that even if the office discloses its spending publicly every six months, a financial disclosure that would encompass last fall through this March was overdue.

She also sought from prosecutors guidance on explaining the laws and regulations that governed past special prosecutors, at one point bringing up Watergate and the era of Janet Reno as attorney general.

Cannon’s questions were so pointed toward Pearce that at one point the prosecutor mentioned how other courts have been overturned if they invalidated a government function in the way Cannon was probing, and said he hoped the Justice Department could provide additional written argument to the court if invalidating Smith was a serious possibility.

Should Congress be more involved?

Trump is also aiming to bring Congress into the conversation. Trump attorney Emil Bove advocated at Monday’s hearing that Cannon should insist on more congressional oversight of the special counsel’s office’s work, or decide that the way the office is funded is unlawful because, he says, the money is being used in a way Congress hadn’t authorized.

The argument is in line with other arguments the Trump team has made to the judge in recent days alleging Smith is too independent from Justice Department leadership. Bove also told the judge more congressional oversight would curb what he called “extraordinary things” that were happening in the documents case.​

Justice Department attorneys have responded in court that the special counsel operates in line with established policies, in place over several decades and administrations, and that the DOJ is committed to continuing to fund this prosecution of Trump under the attorney general’s authorization. Republicans on Capitol Hill have also tried to buckle down on the DOJ’s use of the special counsel’s office and its funding.

For more CNN news and newsletters create an account at CNN.com