Trump Launches Appeal Against Judge’s Gag Order

Trump Launches Appeal Against Judge’s Gag Order
Former President Donald Trump speaks as the court takes a lunch break during his civil fraud trial at New York State Supreme Court in New York on Oct. 17, 2023. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Former President Donald Trump filed a notice of appeal after a partial gag order was handed down earlier this week in special counsel Jack Smith’s Jan. 6-related case against him.

Lawyers for the 45th president, in court papers filed Tuesday, launched an appeal that argued that Judge Tanya Chutkan’s partial order “would be embracing new ground in respect to the First Amendment that would regulate campaign speech.”

The notice of appeal doesn’t include any legal arguments. His team is likely going to challenge Judge Chutkan’s order on grounds that his First Amendment right is being violated.

“We’re being railroaded. And I have other trials where we’re being railroaded. You saw yesterday where they took away my right to speak. I won’t be able to speak like I’m speaking to you,” Trump told reporters on Tuesday inside a New York courtroom, where his company is embroiled in a civil trial in a separate case.

The former president contended that “I am leading Joe Biden” in presidential polls, “and I’m being restricted.” He added, “My speech has been taken away from me. I’m a candidate that’s running for office and I’m not allowed to speak.”

Monday’s gag order issued by the federal judge restricts President Trump’s capacity to criticize court personnel, Mr. Smith, the special counsel’s staff, or possible witnesses in the case. The order doesn’t include restrictions about the Department of Justice or about the city of Washington itself, where his court case will likely be held.

“This is not about whether I like the language Mr. Trump uses,” Judge Chutkan said in during a hearing on Monday in announcing the order. “This is about language that presents a danger to the administration of justice.”

The order also notes that it applies to all parties involved in the case, not just President Trump.

“All interested parties in this matter, including the parties and their counsel, are prohibited from making any public statements, or directing others to make any public statements, that target (1) the Special Counsel prosecuting this case or his staff; (2) defense counsel or their staff; (3) any of this court’s staff or other supporting personnel; or (4) any reasonably foreseeable witness or the substance of their testimony,” her order said.

The order issued by the judge also claimed a “significant and immediate risk” that could be faced by individuals singled out by President Trump on social media or in public comments, saying there is “undisputed testimony” that such “individuals are consequently threatened and harassed.”

While in court on Monday, Trump attorney John Lauro noted that his 2024 campaign is currently underway in the midst of the prosecution. “Mr. Trump is allowed to say things like this is a politically motivated prosecution. He is entitled to say [that] he is being treated unfairly. He is allowed to speak truth to oppression,” Mr. Lauro said.

At one point, Mr. Lauro asked: “What’s going to happen if Trump says something about [former Vice President Mike] Pence during debate?” Mr. Pence could be called as a witness in the Jan. 6 case. “Depends what he says,” Judge Chutkan said in response.

At rallies and in social media posts, the former president has accused Mr. Smith and other prosecutors of politically targeting him, while saying he’s being unfairly targeted the Biden administration and Democrats.

Gag orders are not unheard of in high-profile cases, but there is little legal precedent for court orders limiting the speech of defendants running for public office and none addressing presidential candidates. Legal experts have said the issue may end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Previously, President Trump has been critical of the President Barack Obama-appointed judge, with his team last month filing court papers asking her to recuse herself from the case, citing her public comments about President Trump as she sentenced Jan. 6 Capitol breach defendants. She declined to do so.

In the aforementioned New York case, Judge Arthur Engoron issued a partial gag order targeting President Trump and accused him of making “personal attacks on my staff.”

President Trump, who is the current GOP front-runner in numerous opinion polls, is charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy against rights, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, and attempting to obstruct an official proceeding. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges in the case.

The case is scheduled to go to trial in March. It’s one of four criminal cases he is facing while he campaigns to return to the White House in 2024.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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