U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan plans a hearing in Washington on the bid by Special Counsel Jack Smith to bar Trump from discussing possible witnesses and disparaging prosecutors, court staff and potential jurors.

Smith has cited "inflammatory public statements", including a stream of social media attacks by Trump, that prosecutors argue are undermining public confidence in the legal system and may influence potential jurors.

Trump, who is not expected to attend Monday's hearing, has sharply opposed the request, calling it an attempt to stifle his speech as he runs for president with a commanding lead in the race for the Republican nomination in 2024.

The request for a partial gag order has emerged as an early flash point about five months ahead of Trump's scheduled trial on charges that he conspired to interfere in the counting of votes and block the certification of the 2020 election, which he lost to Democrat Joe Biden.

Trump has pleaded not guilty and accused prosecutors of attempting to interfere with his campaign. The case is one of four criminal cases federal and state prosecutors have brought against the former president this year.

A New York judge presiding over a civil fraud trial against Trump and his family business already issued a gag order against Trump this month, preventing him from speaking about court staff after he lashed out at the judge's clerk on social media.

In a court filing, Smith citied Trump's criticism on his Truth Social site of potential witnesses including former Vice President and 2024 presidential rival Mike Pence, who Trump said had gone to the "Dark Side," and former top U.S. general Mark Milley, who Trump accused of colluding with China in an act that he said would have once warranted death.

Prosecutors said Trump's remarks were part of the same pattern of menacing conduct he showed after the 2020 election, when his targeting of election officials and false claims of voter fraud led to threats from his supporters.

"The defendant knows that when he publicly attacks individuals and institutions, he inspires others to perpetrate threats and harassment against his targets," prosecutors wrote in a court filing.

Trump's lawyers countered that there was no evidence Trump's posts had negatively affected the case and accused prosecutors of attempting to impose sweeping restrictions on Trump's criticism of the government.

"At bottom, the Proposed Gag Order is nothing more than an obvious attempt by the Biden Administration to unlawfully silence its most prominent political opponent," Trump's lawyers wrote in a court filing.

Smith was appointed as special counsel to give the investigation a degree of independence from the political leadership of the U.S. Justice Department. Prosecutors have previously denied allegations of political interference.

(Reporting by Andrew Goudsward; Editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis)

By Andrew Goudsward