Thu. May 30th, 2024

Trump gag order reinstated in Jack Smith federal election case

By Sampad Oct30,2023

Courtroom sketch depicting Judge Tanya Chutkan in an exchange with Donald Trump’s lawyers. 

A federal judge reimposed a gag order on Donald Trump in his criminal election interference case, rejecting Trump’s arguments that the restrictions on his speech were unconstitutional.

The decision by Judge Tanya Chutkan was posted late Sunday in U.S. District Court in Washington. The ruling ended a temporary pause on a gag order that prohibits Trump from publicly targeting prosecutors and likely witnesses in the case, as well as members of the court’s staff.

The reinstatement of the gag order means that the front-runner in the Republican presidential primary once again faces significant limits on what he can say about key figures in the case against him.

In her ruling, Chutkan noted that while the gag order was on pause, Trump had attacked his last White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, who is likely to be called as a witness in the case.

Less than 90 minutes after the judge’s decision appeared on the public court docket Sunday, Trump posted a separate attack on his last attorney general, William Barr.

Trump called Barr “dumb” and “weak” and a “loser,” in response to Barr’s remarks at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics last week.

Like Meadows, Barr is a potential witness in the case against Trump and, like Meadows, he was mentioned by name in Chutkan’s order.

A spokesman for special counsel Jack Smith, whose team is prosecuting the case, declined to comment on whether Trump’s latest attack on Barr violated the gag order.

Trump later called Chutkan’s order “unthinkable” and claimed in a social media post that “it will not stand.” He also accused the judge of being biased against him.

So far, Trump’s presidential campaign speeches have been peppered with attacks on Smith and potential witnesses in the case, where he is charged with conspiring to overturn his loss to President Joe Biden in the 2020 election. Trump has pleaded not guilty.

Lawyers for Trump had asked for a longer stay of the gag order while they appealed it in a higher court.

“Trump’s appeal is going nowhere,” wrote Neal Katyal, former U.S. acting solicitor general in the Obama White House, on Monday. He called Chutkan’s nine-page order “excellent,” and said it “destroys Trump’s claims.”

Trump’s lawyers, meanwhile, had argued that the order — imposed Oct. 17 after Chutkan found that Trump’s statements posed “sufficiently grave threats” to the case — was overly broad and vague, and that it amounted to a prior restraint on a leading political candidate.

In a court filing Saturday, Trump’s lawyers argued that the “only justification” for the gag order was concern that Trump’s statements could lead to threats against prosecutors, witnesses and court staff. They said any link between Trump’s online attacks and real-world harm to Trump’s targets was an “unsupported conclusion.”

As of Monday, Trump faced active gag orders in two separate cases.

The presiding judge in the New York civil case accusing Trump and his business of fraud has barred Trump from making public statements attacking the judge’s staff. Trump has already violated that gag order twice, drawing a total of $15,000 in penalties.

By Sampad

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