The Obama-appointed judge overseeing former President Donald Trump’s federal election interference case reinstated a gag order that will prevent the Republican leader from future freewheeling criticism of prosecutors and co-defendants in the case.
POLITICO reports that U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan reversed an earlier decision pausing the gag order at the request of President Trump, who argued that it unfairly stifled his defense in the case. Attorneys for Biden Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith argued that Trump was intimidating witnesses and cited the recent Truth Social post Trump made about Mark Meadows, his former chief of staff and co-defendant, where he suggested “weaklings” would take plea deals.
In a nine-page order Sunday night, Judge Chutkan rejected President Trump’s free speech defense and claimed his mention of Meadows would “almost certainly violate the order” had she not paused it. Chutkan added that she does not plan to reprimand Trump for the statement because the order was not in effect.
The order emphasized Chutkan’s belief that President Trump has broad rights to speak about his case but that those rights cannot come at the expense of the “orderly administration of justice.”
Trump’s “repeated appeals to broad First Amendment values therefore ignores that the court — pursuant to its obligation to protect the integrity of the proceedings — recognized those values, but in balancing them against the potential prejudice resulting from certain kinds of statements, found them outweighed,” Chutkan wrote.
In contrast to his statement on Meadows, Judge Chutkan cited another recent post by Trump promising “100% evidence” at his trial to show that President Joe Biden stole the 2020 election. Chutkan said this statement would be permissible under the gag order.
President Trump made his thoughts about Chukan known, telling followers overnight she is a “Biased, Trump Hating Judge” and said the gag order will “put me at a disadvantage against my prosecutorial and political opponents.”
In August, Smith charged President Trump with various crimes related to the 2020 elections, including the January 6th, 2021 riots at the Capitol. The Republican frontrunner has assailed Smith as a partisan Biden appointee who commits “political hit jobs” for a living. The case is already taking its toll on Smith, who has suffered a number of legal setbacks and is on pace to spend $25 million annually to take on Trump’s formidable legal team.