Donald Trump’s alleged effort to intimidate his former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows via social media into not testifying against him won him a slap-down. Judge Tanya Chutkan announced on Sunday that her gag order against the former president was reimposed. The gag order took effect on Monday.
Chutkan’s ruling noted that Trump was required to refrain from going after court officers and witnesses by “attacking them, subjecting them to ridicule or criticism, or otherwise attempting to affect them.”
She had agreed to relax the order pending the results of an appeal that Trump had filed. Trump made his comments in response to an ABC News report that claimed Meadows had agreed to turn against Trump. Meadows’ attorney, however, denied the report’s veracity.
“Some people would make that deal,” Trump wrote on Truth Social, “but they are weaklings and cowards, and so bad for the future of our Failing Nation. I don’t think that Mark Meadows is one of them, but who really knows?”
ACLU Defends Donald Trump
The American Civil Liberties Union, hardly a normally pro-Trump outfit, filed an amicus brief questioning the breadth of the gag order against the former president.
“No modern-day president did more damage to civil liberties and civil rights than President Trump,” said the group’s executive director, Anthony Romero, in a press release. “But if we allow his free speech rights to be abridged, we know that other unpopular voices — even ones we agree with — will also be silenced.”
Romero continued, “As much as we disagreed with Donald Trump’s policies, everyone is entitled to the same First Amendment protection against gag orders that are too broad and too vague.”
Chris Christie: Trump Conviction Likely
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that he believes that Trump likely will be convicted in the January 6th case.
“This is a guy who was Velcro to Trump’s hip for the entire 2020 campaign and all the post-campaign nonsense,” Christie said of Meadows in an MSNBC interview. “And so this is deadly, it’s done. He’s going to be convicted. … It’s over.”
Christie continued, “I want Republican voters to understand this — what’s going to be happening in March? He’s going to be sitting in a courtroom in Washington, D.C., with Mark Meadows 20 feet away from him, saying, ‘He committed crimes in front of me on my watch.’”
Gag Order Could Factor Into Appeal
The gag order likely will emerge as a consideration on appeal. The ACLU’s brief criticizes the order as overly broad instead of limiting his comments to avoiding the “most menacing implications, perhaps prohibiting true threats or incitement against witnesses or court staff.”
“Trump’s team has already announced that its next move will be to seek emergency review of the gag order in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Given the sensitivity of the constitutional implications, Trump may get another temporary stay before the appellate court has a chance to consider Chutkan’s ruling,” Norman Eisen and Joshua Kolb wrote in an MSNBC column. “But at the end of the day, Trump will likely lose his appeal — ironically because of the very record he has created since the stay was entered. As has often been the case in Trump’s interactions with the law, he may be his own worst enemy. And Chutkan’s gag order will ultimately survive.”
Trump’s problem at the end of the day will continue to be himself, and his enemies will use the looseness of his tongue against him.