U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan issued a limited gag order on former President Donald J. Trump on Monday. It will restrict Trump from making public statements that attack witnesses, specific prosecutors, and court staff members involved in the federal case concerning his efforts to overturn the 2020.
Trump attorney John Lauro attempted to fend off the partial gag order in a more than two-hour hearing that has been described as “testy” at times.
However, Chutkan ruled that the former president’s free speech rights do not permit him “to launch a pretrial smear campaign” against those individuals involved in the case.
“First Amendment protections yield to the administration of justice and to the protection of witnesses,” Judge Chutkan said Monday as she issued the gag order. “His presidential candidacy does not give him carte blanche to vilify … public servants who are simply doing their job.”
“No other defendant would be allowed to do so, and I’m not going to allow it in this case,” Chutkan added.
There has been speculation that the judge’s order could require a significant change in Trump’s public demeanor – as he has routinely been known to make his opinions public via posts to social media and on the campaign trail to his supporters. That has included assailing the prosecutor in the case, as well as special counsel Jack Smith, whom Trump described as “deranged,” while the former president has branded others on Smith’s team as “thugs.”
“This is not about whether I like the language Mr. Trump uses. This is about language that presents a danger to the administration of justice,” Chutkan maintained.
While Trump didn’t comment directly, in a statement, a spokesperson for his team called the order “an absolute abomination and another partisan knife stuck in the heart of our Democracy by Crooked Joe Biden.”
Trump’s legal team has further said they plan to appeal the ruling.
Smith had called for the narrow gag order because of past comments made by Trump, which they warned could threaten to intimidate witnesses and taint the jury pool.
Trump has already attacked some potential witnesses – notably suggesting that retired General Mark Milley would have faced the death penalty in another era, while he has regularly attacked former Attorney General Bill Barr.
Yet, the narrowly tailored order will explicitly allow Trump to pursue his presidential campaign, and that will include disparaging the Department of Justice (DoJ) and even President Joe Biden.
Trump could further be allowed to assert that he believed the criminal prosecution was politically motivated, and The New York Times reported that Judge Chutkan even “left Mr. Trump leeway to attack her as well.”
Donald Trump’s Day in Court
It was not the only setback for Donald Trump, as Chutkan scheduled his criminal trial to begin on March 4, 2024 – and she said the date will not change.
“This trial will not yield to the election cycle and we will not revisit the trial date,” Chutkan emphasized.
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.