Former President Donald Trump didn’t back down in the face of a federal judge’s decision to maintain a gag order on him during his federal election interference trial. U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan recently ruled against lifting the gag order, prompting a strong response from the leading GOP contender in the 2024 presidential race.
Trump took to his Truth Social platform to voice his objections, stating, “The Corrupt Biden Administration just took away my First Amendment Right To Free Speech. NOT CONSTITUTIONAL! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.” He continued by criticizing Judge Chutkan, whom he accused of bias and open disdain for him, and who he believed should have recused herself from the case.
Trump argued that the reinstated gag order put him at a disadvantage against his prosecutorial and political opponents, a move he deemed unthinkable and a violation of his First Amendment rights. “a GAG ORDER which will put me at a disadvantage against my prosecutorial and political opponents,” Trump has said.
Despite the setback, Trump vowed to appeal, questioning how the leading presidential candidate could be restricted from campaigning freely. He asserted, “It will not stand!”
In response to the request of special prosecutor Jack Smith, the gag order was initially imposed this month and now remains in place while Trump’s legal team pursues an appeal. This order prohibits Trump from making any public statements that target the Special Counsel prosecuting the case, defense counsel, court staff, or potential witnesses and their testimony.
In her ruling, Judge Chutkan defended the necessity of the order, emphasizing that First Amendment rights may be curtailed when they pose significant threats to the integrity of judicial proceedings or may lead to witness intimidation. Chutkan said the ban would prevent witness intimidation. “The evidence is in the record; Defendant simply fails to acknowledge it,” she wrote.
She also highlighted that the order was specifically crafted to address these threats and cited examples of statements that would be allowed and those that crossed the line. Chutkan mentioned a Truth Social post by Trump on October 20, which she deemed permissible. However, she pointed to a subsequent post where Trump implied that Meadows could have immunity against prosecution by making false claims or lying about the 2020 presidential election, as well as the fact that if he does “lie,” Meadows is, therefore, a “weakling and coward.” Chutkan explained that could be perceived as an attempt to influence a witness, and she explained that the gag order would cover this statement.
Despite the prosecution’s request to incorporate the order into Trump’s conditions of release, the judge had decided against it. Currently, Trump faces four felony charges for his role in the January 6 Capitol riot and for challenging the results of the 2020 elections.