Former President Trump’s legal team formally appealed the partial gag order issued against him on Monday by the federal judge presiding over Special Counsel Jack Smith’s case related to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot.
Judge Tanya Chutkan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Monday imposed a partial gag order against Trump, blocking him from making statements targeting Smith, his staff, potential witnesses and court personnel.
Trump attorneys pushed back against the order in court on Monday, arguing that by imposing the partial gag order, the court ‘would be embracing new ground in respect to the First Amendment that would regulate campaign speech.’
‘What’s going to happen if Trump says something about Pence during [the] debate?’ Trump attorney John Lauro asked.
Former Vice President Mike Pence, also a 2024 Republican presidential contender, could be called as a witness in the trial.
‘Depends what he says,’ Chutkan replied, saying that she was ‘not confident that without some kind of restriction’ the speech would be limited.
Chutkan said Monday that the former president is able to criticize the Justice Department in general terms and has the right to post his view that the case against him is politically motivated. However, the judge said Trump cannot post attacks against prosecutors or court staff.
‘No other criminal defendant would be allowed to do so, and I’m not going to allow it in this case,’ Chutkan said, adding that, if necessary, she would impose sanctions if Trump violates the partial gag order.
The Trump campaign on Monday said in a statement that the decision to impose the partial gag order ‘is an absolute abomination and another partisan knife stuck in the heart of our Democracy by Crooked Joe Biden, who was granted the right to muzzle his political opponent, the leading candidate for the Presidency in 2024, and the most popular political leader in America, President Donald J. Trump.’
‘President Trump will continue to fight for our Constitution, the American people’s right to support him, and to keep our country free of the chains of weaponized and targeted law enforcement,’ the spokesperson added.
Trump pleaded not guilty in federal court to all four federal charges stemming from Smith’s investigation into 2020 election interference and the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021.
Trump, the current 2024 GOP front-runner, is charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiracy against rights.
The judge presiding over the New York Trump Organization trial also imposed a partial gag order to prevent all parties from engaging in any verbal attacks against court staff after Trump criticized a member of the judge’s office on social media.
Judge Arthur Engoron this month issued an order that he said applies to both the defense and New York Attorney General Letitia James’ team. The gag order only applies to verbal attacks on staff.