Earlier this week, special counsel Jack Smith urged a federal judge to reinstate a gag order on Donald Trump, arguing that the former president had used the brief reprieve from the restrictions to pressure and attack witnesses. That has included his former Chief-of-Staff Mark Meadows, who was granted immunity after he agreed to testify in the federal election subversion probe.
In a 32-page filing on Wednesday, federal prosecutors presented the former president as an active danger to the integrity of the upcoming trial, but also to the physical safety of the government’s witnesses.
It was just last week that U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is presiding over Trump’s federal criminal case on charges related to his efforts to subvert the 2020 election, imposed the gag – only to pause it a few days later after Trump’s legal team filed an appeal.
As Politico.com reported, as soon as the gag order was paused, Trump immediately unleashed a torrent of public invective that would have violated the order if it were in effect, the special counsel’s team argued in the new brief.
“The defendant has returned to the very sort of targeting that the Order prohibits, including attempting to intimidate and influence foreseeable witnesses, and commenting on the substance of their testimony,” senior assistant special counsels Molly Gaston and Thomas Windom wrote.
“He well knows that, by publicly targeting perceived adversaries with inflammatory language, he can maintain a plausible deniability while ensuring the desired results,” Gaston and Windom added. “The defendant knows the effect of his targeting and seeks to use it to his strategic advantage while simultaneously disclaiming any responsibility for the very acts he causes.”
Trump Returned to Being Trump
As an example, on Tuesday, Trump lashed out at Meadows via his Truth Social network.
“I don’t think Mark Meadows would lie about the Rigged and Stollen 2020 Presidential Election merely for getting IMMUNITY against Prosecution (PERSECUTION!),” the former president wrote, adding, “Some people would make that deal, but they are weaklings and cowards, and so bad for the future our Failing Nation. I don’t think that Mark Meadows is one of them, but who really knows? MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!!!”
An Unlikely Ally? Defending Dangerous Speech?
Trump received some support from what many may see as an unlikely ally, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Its Washington, D.C. chapter filed an amicus brief – also known as a “friend of the court” – in support of the former president on Wednesday, arguing that the gag order against the former president in his federal election subversion case is unconstitutional. The brief contends that the order issued by Chutkan earlier this month violates Trump’s First Amendment rights.
ACLU senior staff attorney Brett Kaufman wrote that Trump has made statements that have been “patently false” and have “caused great harm to countless individuals, as well as to the Republic itself,” but he added, “Trump retains a First Amendment right to speak, and the rest of us retain a right to hear what he has to say.”
The ACLU also argued that Chutkan’s gag order is too vague in its ban on “targeting” individuals related to the case – as it could read that Trump would violate the order by mentioning those people to reporters or in his posts on social media.
“The entire order hinges on the meaning of the word ‘target,'” the ACLU wrote. “But that meaning is ambiguous, and fails to provide the fair warning that the Constitution demands, especially when, as here, it concerns a prior restraint on speech.”
Trump Fined for Violating Another Gag Order
On Wednesday, the former president was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine for violating a partial gag order imposed by New York Judge Arthur Engoron in the civil trial stemming from New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit against him and the Trump Organization.
It was the second time Trump was fined in the New York civil case. Trump was warned by the judge not to do it again, “or it will be worse.”
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.
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