CNN

Judge reinstates gag order on Trump in federal election subversion case

Oct 29, 2023, 6:38 PM | Updated: Oct 30, 2023, 7:04 am

(Spencer Platt/Pool Photo via AP)...

(Spencer Platt/Pool Photo via AP)

(Spencer Platt/Pool Photo via AP)

WASHINGTON (CNN) The judge overseeing Donald Trump’s federal election subversion criminal case has reinstated the gag order she issued on the former president earlier this month.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan also denied Trump’s request to issue a long-term stay of the order – which bars the former president from publicly targeting court personnel, potential witnesses or the special counsel’s team – while his appeal of it played out.

“As the court has explained, the First Amendment rights of participants in criminal proceedings must yield, when necessary, to the orderly administration of justice—a principle reflected in Supreme Court precedent, the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, and the Local Criminal Rules,” the judge wrote. “And contrary to Defendant’s argument, the right to a fair trial is not his alone, but belongs also to the government and the public.”

Chutkan issued the order earlier this month after prosecutors raised concerns that the former president could intimidate witnesses or encourage harm against prosecutors through his public comments. Trump quickly appealed, and Chutkan temporarily froze the order on October 20 while special counsel Jack Smith’s team and Trump’s attorneys litigated whether it should be paused indefinitely during the appeals process.

The former president slammed the ruling Sunday evening, claiming it infringed on his right to free speech.

“The Corrupt Biden Administration just took away my First Amendment Right To Free Speech. NOT CONSTITUTIONAL! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN…” Trump posted on Truth Social.

Trump now faces two gag orders barring him from discussing aspects of his legal cases in the public: One from Chutkan, who is overseeing the case brought by Smith in Washington, DC, and a second from the judge overseeing his civil fraud trial in New York. While the orders are both limited in scope, they mark a measurable limit on the former president’s speech.

Prosecutors from Smith’s office urged Chutkan last week to reinstate the gag order, arguing that almost immediately after she paused the order Trump resumed publishing allegedly intimidating posts about prosecutors and potential witnesses in the case on social media.

Chutkan noted that one such post targeting Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows would have “almost certainly” violated the gag order had it not been paused.

“The statement singles out a foreseeable witness for purposes of characterizing his potentially unfavorable testimony as a “lie” “mad(e) up” to secure immunity, and it attacks him as a “weakling and coward” if he provides that unfavorable testimony—an attack that could readily be interpreted as an attempt to influence or prevent the witness’s participation in this case,” Chutkan wrote.

Trump has said in court that the gag order infringes on his First Amendment rights and limits his ability to discuss the case on the campaign trail.

Kate Sullivan contributed to this report.

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Judge reinstates gag order on Trump in federal election subversion case