The text of a new partial gag order against Donald Trump released on Tuesday outlines what exactly a judge has prohibited the former president from saying in public or online as the federal election obstruction case against him in Washington moves forward.
(Bloomberg) — The text of a new partial gag order against Donald Trump released on Tuesday outlines what exactly a judge has prohibited the former president from saying in public or online as the federal election obstruction case against him in Washington moves forward.
Here’s what it says:
- Trump can continue to criticize US District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is presiding over the trial and entered the order. But he can’t criticize her staff or “other supporting personnel” in the federal courthouse.
- He can no longer attack Special Counsel John “Jack” Smith or prosecutors in Smith’s office, a ban Chutkan said applies to lawyers’ family members.
- Trump can criticize the “campaign platforms or policies” of former Vice President Mike Pence or any other “current political rivals,” but he can’t discuss Pence’s role or expected testimony as a potential witness in the criminal case.
- He’s barred from making public statements about any other “reasonably foreseeable witness or the substance of their testimony,” a list that includes former top administration officials — Attorney General Bill Barr and former Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, for instance — and other key officials who surrounded Trump or were in contact with in the months after the 2020 election.
- Trump also can’t “direct” anyone else to make the type of statements that he’s now barred from making.
Chutkan’s order on its face doesn’t just apply to Trump — it covers his attorneys and prosecutors, too — but it was issued after the judge found that his barrage of attacks on the case posed “a significant and immediate risk” of intimidating witnesses and jeopardizing the safety of the “public servants” involved.
“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,” Chutkan wrote.
Read More: Trump Gag Order in DC Case Bars Attacks on Smith, Witnesses
The former president has vowed to appeal. His lawyers argued that any new restrictions on what he can say about the election obstruction case — one of four indictments pending against him — would violate his First Amendment free speech rights, especially as he runs for president again in 2024. Trump also is under a limited gag order in New York, where a judge presiding over a civil fraud case against him barred him from posting about court personnel after he disparaged a law clerk online and shared her photo.
The wording of Chutkan’s order will matter if Trump does take the fight to the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. She didn’t cast as wide a net as the government wanted, allowing Trump to continue criticizing the Justice Department, the Biden administration, and the prosecution effort. She also said he could make critical comments about Washington and the people who live there, but warned those could hurt any future effort by his lawyers to argue to move the trial elsewhere because of pretrial publicity or prejudice among the potential juror pool.
“Defendant’s statements pose sufficiently grave threats to the integrity of these proceedings that cannot be addressed by alternative means, and it has tailored its order to meet the force of those threats,” Chutkan wrote.
Within hours of Chutkan’s announcement on Monday afternoon, Trump was back on the attack on his Truth Social platform, describing the case as a “WITCH HUNT” in a post declaring he would appeal. Early Tuesday he posted a message accusing “Crooked Joe Biden” — a phrase the judge parsed during Monday’s hearing and gave him the green light to use — of orchestrating the criminal cases against him. He hasn’t made any more public attacks on court staff in New York since the gag order was entered there but has continued to criticize the civil fraud case, telling reporters it was “rigged” as he arrived at the courthouse on Tuesday.
Related: Trump Returns to ‘Rigged’ NY Fraud Trial, Says Banks Happy
Chutkan said that if Trump or anyone else in the case violated her order, she would “consider sanctions as may be necessary.” She signaled she would be independently keeping tabs on activity outside her courtroom, saying she would review possible violations that the parties brought to her attention or “sua sponte,” meaning on her own authority. Her order didn’t specify what type of sanctions she might impose.
Read the full order here.
More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.