Former President Donald Trump has been given a limited gag order by a federal judge overseeing his criminal case regarding his attempts to overturn the outcome of the 2020 election. The order prohibits Trump from publicly attacking prosecutors, court personnel, and potential trial witnesses. However, he is still permitted to criticize the Biden administration, the US Department of Justice, and the trial venue of Washington DC. Additionally, he can claim that the case is politically motivated.
US District Judge Tanya Chutkan issued the protective order and cautioned Trump’s lawyers that any violation could result in immediate punitive measures. She expressed concerns that Trump’s remarks might intimidate witnesses and advised against launching a pre-trial smear campaign.
Trump’s controversial comments were categorized into five areas: the trial venue, the Biden administration and justice department, Special Counsel Jack Smith and his team, Judge Chutkan and her staff, and potential trial witnesses. The judge decided not to restrict Trump from disparaging the trial venue, as biased jurors can be removed before the trial. However, she disagreed with his attacks on the special counsel and allowed him to criticize the government within the boundaries of political speech.
Trump’s lead lawyer, John Lauro, questioned how Trump should respond “in the face of oppression,” but the judge advised him to moderate his statements. The judge also expressed concern about Trump’s derogatory remarks about court personnel, including a recent post in his civil fraud trial in New York, where he disparaged the judge’s clerk.
Trump’s legal team argued that his statements against certain potential trial witnesses were not intimidating, but the judge remained skeptical. Prosecutors had flagged Trump’s attacks on General Mark Milley and former Attorney General William Barr, asserting that he was using his campaign to intimidate witnesses and taint the jury pool.
In her ruling, the judge emphasized that as a criminal defendant, Trump does not have unrestricted First Amendment rights and should not feel compelled to respond to every criticism he receives. Prior to reaching her decision, the judge presented four hypothetical statements to Trump’s lawyer, one of which involved calling Barr a “slimy liar.” The lawyer jokingly responded that it was not intimidating, but the judge disagreed.
With this limited gag order in place, Trump must refrain from publicly attacking prosecutors, court personnel, and potential trial witnesses. While he is still allowed to criticize the Biden administration, the US Department of Justice, and the trial venue, he should exercise caution to avoid violating the order and facing punitive consequences.
“Infuriatingly humble tv expert. Friendly student. Travel fanatic. Bacon fan. Unable to type with boxing gloves on.”