A judge’s partial gag order on Donald Trump has been put on hold as an appeals court weighs whether to uphold the restrictions placed on the former president in his federal election election conspiracy case.
A three-judge panel scheduled oral arguments for Nov. 20 in Trump’s appeal of U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan’s gag order. In the meantime, the three judges imposed an administrative stay on the gag order, but said that it “should not be construed in any way as a ruling on the merits” of the Trump appeal. No time frame was given for the stay.
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Last month, Chutkan issued an order that prohibits Trump and other parties from attacking prosecutors, court staff and witnesses.
Chutkan wrote in her order that Trump’s comments about figures like Special Counsel Jack Smith and Mark Milley, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a potential witness, make them targets of threats and harassment. “The bottom line is that equal justice under law requires the equal treatment of criminal defendants; Defendant’s presidential candidacy cannot excuse statements that would otherwise intolerably jeopardize these proceedings,” she wrote.
The order prohibits all parties in the case “from making any public statements, or directing others to make any public statements, that target (1) the Special Counsel prosecuting this case or his staff; (2) defense counsel or their staff; (3) any of this court’s staff or other supporting personnel; or (4) any reasonably foreseeable witness or the substance of their testimony.”
Trump is not barred from commenting on the government generally, including the Biden administration and the Justice Department, nor will he be prohibited from claiming his innocence or that his prosecution is politically motivated, according to the judge.
Trump’s legal team appealed Chutkan’s order. At a hearing last month, his attorney, John Lauro, said that the gag order violates the former president’s First Amendment rights, noting that political speech in the course of a presidential campaign is given a high standard of protection.
Trump is facing a trial in March over federal prosecutors charges that he engaged in a conspiracy to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. He has plead not guilty.
Trump has been fined twice for violating the terms of a gag order imposed on him in another case, a civil fraud trail currently underway in New York. The judge, Arthur Engoron, prohibited Trump from attacking members of his court staff. Engoron extended the gag order to the former president’s legal team.
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