Trump Lawyers Battle Prosecutors Over Gag Order in Election Case
Donald Trump’s legal team and the Justice Department are battling in court over a gag order that prohibits the former president from disparaging witnesses and prosecutors tied to the election interference case. Trump’s attorney, D. John Sauer, argues the gag order infringes on Trump’s constitutional rights and threatens political speech, while prosecutors maintain that it is needed for a fair trial, asserting his comments have led to threats and harassment towards witnesses. The gag order does allow Trump to criticize the Biden administration and claim that the case against him is politically motivated.
Donald Trump’s Lawyers Contest Gag Order in Federal Appeals Court
Donald Trump’s legal team argued in a federal appeals court that a gag order is infringing on his constitutional rights. The order prohibits Trump from making negative statements about witnesses and prosecutors involved in the election interference case.
The arguments were presented to a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, with special counsel Jack Smith, responsible for charging Trump, in attendance. Trump’s attorney, D. John Sauer, contended that the gag order would set a dangerous precedent on restrictions against political speech.
Trump asserts that his speech should not be impeded, especially as a presidential candidate.
“The gag order assigns an unelected federal judge to censor what the leading presidential candidate can say to Americans,” Trump stated, asserting that no other court has ever upheld a gag order on core political speech during a campaign.
Special counsel Jack Smith’s office argues that the gag order is necessary for a fair trial, citing risks of harassment and witness intimidation due to Trump’s social media posts and public comments.
U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, overseeing the case, agreed with prosecutors in a recent order. She emphasized the threats and harassment faced by individuals publicly criticized by Trump.
Chutkan’s gag order prohibited Trump “from making public statements, or directing others to make any public statements” that target likely witnesses and the substance of their testimony, as well as the special counsel, his staff and court employees.
However, Trump’s attorneys appealed the order, stating that Chutkan was impeding communication between Trump and American citizens. They argued that the court was intruding into the Presidential election process, and that the First Amendment doesn’t permit the district court to micromanage Trump’s core political speech.
Prosecutors refuted this, arguing that Trump was seeking preferential treatment.
In their filing, government attorneys argued that Trump’s demands went beyond the right to defend himself, criticize the judge or prosecution, or his political opponents. They contended that Trump shouldn’t be allowed to target witnesses, court staff and prosecutors with inflammatory language that could lead to harassment and threats.
This is not the first time Trump has faced a gag order and appealed it. A New York judge imposed a gag order during Trump’s ongoing $250 million civil fraud trial which was temporarily lifted by a state court until a full panel of judges can review the case later this month.
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