The DC Circuit Court of Appeals largely upheld but narrowed Judge Tanya Chutkan’s gag order against President Trump in the alleged election interference case of Jack Smith on Friday.
“We agree with the district court that some aspects of Mr. Trump’s public statements pose a significant and imminent threat to the fair and orderly adjudication of the ongoing criminal proceeding, warranting a speech-constraining protective order,” the DC appeals court ruled, according to NBC News. “The district court’s order, however, sweeps in more protected speech than is necessary. For that reason, we affirm the district court’s order in part and vacate it in part.”
Trump’s attorneys have been challenging the gag order imposed by Judge Chutkan since its issuance last month. The injunction barred Trump from disparaging Jack Smith or his prosecutors, any personnel of the court, or related witnesses.
However, the appellate court upheld most of the provisions except for that which prohibited criticism of Smith. The ruling clarified that Trump does not possess an unrestricted right to speak in public.
“The record shows that Mr. Trump has repeatedly attacked those involved in this case through threatening public statements, as well as messaging daggered at likely witnesses and their testimony,” the ruling said, according to NBC News. “The unique megaphone a defendant wields, amplified by social media, ramps up the risk of public and press reactions and attention capable of altering or swaying witnesses’ participation in the trial or the content of their testimony. The risk is particularly significant that public statements about certain witnesses’ involvement in the case may intimidate other potential witnesses from providing testimony, encourage them to alter their testimony, or dissuade them from cooperating with investigators.”
Judge Patricia Millett, an Obama appointee wrote: “Mr. Trump is a former President and current candidate for the presidency, and there is a strong public interest in what he has to say. But Mr. Trump is also an indicted criminal defendant, and he must stand trial in a courtroom under the same procedures that govern all other criminal defendants. That is what the rule of law means.”
Excerpt from NBC News:
A federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., on Friday upheld but narrowed the gag order that had been imposed on former President Donald Trump in his election interference case prohibiting him from making critical comments about potential witnesses and prosecutors.
The new version of the gag order bars Trump and his lawyers from making “public statements about known or reasonably foreseeable witnesses concerning their potential participation in the investigation or in this criminal proceeding.”
It also upheld the section of the order prohibiting Trump and his lawyers from making public statements about lawyers in the case, court staff, special counsel staff or their family members. The one exception is special counsel Jack Smith. The appeals court found the order “should not have restricted speech about the Special Counsel himself.”
“An Appeals Court has just largely upheld the Gag Order against me in the ridiculous J6 Case, where the Unselect January 6th Committee deleted and destroyed almost all Documents and Evidence, saying that I can be barred from talking and, in effect, telling the truth. In other words, people can speak violently and viciously against me, or attack me in any form, but I am not allowed to respond, in kind. What is becoming of our First Amendment, what is becoming of our Country? We will appeal this decision!” Trump said on Truth Social.