Donald Trump is appealing a partial gag order that prohibits him from publicly criticizing witnesses, prosecutors, and court staff involved in the federal election obstruction case against him in Washington.
(Bloomberg) — Donald Trump is appealing a partial gag order that prohibits him from publicly criticizing witnesses, prosecutors, and court staff involved in the federal election obstruction case against him in Washington.
The former president’s lawyers filed notice on Tuesday that they are challenging the order by US District Judge Tanya Chutkan a day after she announced it in court and hours after it was officially entered on the docket. Trump’s team is also expected to ask Chutkan put the speech restrictions on hold until the end of the appeal process, which could include taking the fight to the US Supreme Court, according to a person familiar with the situation.
Appeals courts typically won’t hear cases until after there’s a final judgment in the lower court, and the trial in the election case against Trump — one of four indictments he’s facing — isn’t set to begin until March 4. But Trump’s lawyers have argued that the First Amendment’s free speech protections should be especially high while their client is campaigning for the White House.
Read More: What Trump Can’t Talk About, According to His DC Court Gag Order
If Chutkan declines to pause enforcement of her order while Trump presses his case before the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, he could also ask the appellate judges to immediately intervene.
Chutkan barred Trump from making statements in person, online or in any other public forum that “target” Special Counsel John “Jack” Smith and the prosecutors in his office, Chutkan’s staff and other court personnel, and potential witnesses in the case and their expected testimony. He also is banned from directing other people to make such statements.
The judge wrote that Trump’s barrage of attacks on the case so far — including statements directed at Smith and high-profile witnesses such as former Vice President Mike Pence — “pose a significant and immediate risk” of intimidating witnesses and threatening the safety of “public servants.”
Chutkan, who was nominated by former President Barack Obama, had rebuffed prosecutors’ request for a broader order potentially covering statements attacking the Justice Department, the judge herself, and the potential jury pool in Washington. She also made clear that Trump could continue to criticize the Biden administration and the prosecution effort in general terms, as well as “the campaign platforms or policies” of Pence and other “current political rivals.”
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