Court Upholds Trump Gag Order In Election Case With Limits

A federal appeals court on Friday narrowed a gag order issued against former President Donald Trump by District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan in his 2020 election case.

In a 68-page ruling, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld several aspects of the gag order that restricts Trump from making public statements about prosecutors, witnesses, members of the court staff or their family members.

Trump can now make statements about special counsel Jack Smith as well as the Justice Department and the Biden administration, who he has argued are working together against him. The part of the former order that prohibits him from speaking about witnesses has now been adjusted to only statements that have to do with their “potential participation in the investigation or in this criminal proceeding.”

“Mr. Trump’s documented pattern of speech and its demonstrated real-time, real-world consequences pose a significant and imminent threat to the functioning of the criminal trial process in this case in two respects,” U.S. Circuit Court Judge Patricia Millet wrote in an opinion.

According to Millet, statements about witnesses by Trump could hinder them from participating “fully and candidly” while statements about some court staff could sabotage the case.

“We do not allow such an order lightly. Mr. Trump is a former president and current candidate for the presidency, and there is a strong public interest in what he has to say. But Mr. Trump is also an indicted criminal defendant, and he must stand trial in a courtroom under the same procedures that govern all other criminal defendants. That is what the rule of law means,” the Obama-appointed judge added.

Millet had said in November that the court would have to treat the case carefully in order to maintain a fair criminal trial process without “skewing the political arena.”

In reaction to the Friday ruling, Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung pointed out that the panel, which constitutes judges appointed by a Democrat President, determined that “a huge part of Judge Chutkan’s extraordinarily overbroad gag order was unconstitutional.”

“President Trump will continue to fight for the First Amendment rights of millions of Americans to hear from the leading Presidential candidate at the height of his campaign. The Biden-led witch hunts against President Trump and the American people will fail,” Cheung added.