Trump appeals gag order in DC election case

Former U.S. President Donald Trump attends a Manhattan courthouse trial in a civil fraud case in New York, October 17, 2023.

Peter Foley | Pool | via Reuters

Attorneys for Donald Trump said Tuesday said they will appeal the partial gag order imposed on the former president in his federal election interference case in Washington, D.C.

Trump had vowed to challenge U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan’s gag order, which bars him from public statements targeting special counsel Jack Smith, potential witnesses and others.

Chutkan wrote in the order that Trump’s statements attacking various people involved in the criminal case posed “grave threats to the integrity of these proceedings.”

Defense lawyer John Lauro filed a notice Tuesday afternoon that Trump is appealing Chutkan’s decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Trump has claimed that the order will hamper his ability to speak on the 2024 presidential campaign trail.

“I’ll be the only politician in our history where I won’t be allowed to criticize people,” Trump said at a campaign speech in Iowa following Chutkan’s ruling on Monday. “They put a gag order on me, and I’m not supposed to be talking about things that bad people do.”

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Smith’s office said it sought “narrow” limits on Trump’s speech in order to stop him from tainting their case, which accuses him of conspiring to overturn his 2020 election loss to President Joe Biden.

Chutkan’s order is limited to barring public statements about Smith, the defense counsel, members of the court and their respective staffs, as well as “any reasonably foreseeable witness or the substance of their testimony.”

It allows Trump to keep criticizing the government, including the Department of Justice and President Joe Biden’s administration, in general terms.

Trump can also continue to claim that the prosecution is politically biased against him, and he can still criticize his political rivals’ platforms — including that of former Vice President Mike Pence, a potential witness in the case.

But the order could nevertheless have a significant impact on Trump’s public speech, which often veers into tirades about his legal woes, even at unrelated campaign events.

He has frequently lashed out at Smith, whose office is prosecuting Trump in both the election interference case and a separate criminal case in Florida related to his retention of classified documents.

Trump has accused Smith, as well as the other officials prosecuting him in his two additional ongoing criminal cases, of being politically motivated against him.

Trump has also claimed, without evidence, that the dozens of criminal charges stemming from those cases are part of a conspiracy by the Biden administration to stop him from re-taking the White House in 2024.

He has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.

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