Former President Donald Trump did not let the reimposition of a gag order in his federal election interference trail stop him from speaking his mind.
“The Corrupt Biden Administration just took away my First Amendment Right To Free Speech. NOT CONSTITUTIONAL! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN,” the leading GOP contender in the 2024 presidential race said in a Sunday post on his Truth Social platform.
“I have just learned that the very Biased, Trump Hating Judge in D.C., who should have RECUSED herself due to her blatant and open loathing of your favorite President, ME, has reimposed a GAG ORDER which will put me at a disadvantage against my prosecutorial and political opponents,” he said in a follow-up post.
“This order, according to many legal scholars, is unthinkable!” Trump said. “It illegally and unconstitutionally takes away my First Amendment Right of Free Speech, in the middle of my campaign for President, where I am leading against BOTH Parties in the Polls.
“Few can believe this is happening, but I will appeal. How can they tell the leading candidate that he, and only he, is seriously restricted from campaigning in a free and open manner? It will not stand!”
Chutkan imposed the gag order this month after special prosecutor Jack Smith called for it. In her ruling Sunday, she said the order will remain in effect while Trump’s legal team appeals it.
The order bans Trump 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.”
In the ruling Sunday, the judge said Trump’s claim that his supporters have a right to hear what he says “does not alter the fundamental principle that First Amendment rights, whether those of the speaker or the listener, may be curtailed to preclude statements that pose sufficiently grave threats to the integrity of judicial proceedings.”
Chutkan — who was appointed to the federal bench in D.C. by former President Barack Obama — also said the ban could prevent witness intimidation. “The evidence is in the record; Defendant simply fails to acknowledge it,” she wrote.
In response to Trump’s claims that the order was not necessary, the judge quoted her prior order that read, “Defendant’s statements pose sufficiently grave threats to the integrity of these proceedings that cannot be addressed by alternative means, and it has tailored its order to meet the force of those threats.”
“Defendant has not made a strong showing that he is likely to succeed on the merits,” she wrote. “As the court has explained, the First Amendment rights of participants in criminal proceedings must yield, when necessary, to the orderly administration of justice—a principle reflected in Supreme Court precedent, the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, and the Local Criminal Rules.”
The ruling included examples of what it would allow and what Chutkan said was over the line.
She said a Truth Social post by Trump on Oct. 20 would not be banned. It read, “Does anyone notice that the Election Rigging Biden Administration never goes after the Riggers, but only after those that want to catch and expose the Rigging dogs. Massive information and 100% evidence will be made available during the Corrupt Trials started by our Political Opponent. We will never let 2020 happen again. Look at the result, OUR COUNTRY IS BEING DESTROYED. MAGA!!!”
Then there was a Tuesday post on Truth Social.
“I don’t think Mark Meadows would lie about the Rigged and Stollen 2020 Presidential Election merely for getting IMMUNITY against Prosecution (PERSECUTION!) by Deranged Prosecutor, Jack Smith,” Trump posted. “BUT, when you really think about it, after being hounded like a dog for three years, told you’ll be going to jail for the rest of your life, your money and your family will be forever gone, and we’re not at all interested in exposing those that did the RIGGING — If you say BAD THINGS about that terrible ‘MONSTER,’ DONALD J. TRUMP, we won’t put you in prison, you can keep your family and your wealth, and, perhaps, if you can make up some really horrible ‘STUFF’ a out him, we may very well erect a statue of you in the middle of our decaying and now very violent Capital, Washington, D.C.
“Some people would make that deal, but they are weaklings and cowards, and so bad for the future our Failing Nation. I don’t think that Mark Meadows is one of them, but who really knows? MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!!!”
Chutkan explained why that comment would be covered by her gag order.
“The statement singles out a foreseeable witness for purposes of characterizing his potentially unfavorable testimony as a ‘lie’ ‘mad[e] up’ to secure immunity, and it attacks him as a ‘weakling and coward’ if he provides that unfavorable testimony — an attack that could readily be interpreted as an attempt to influence or prevent the witness’s participation in this case,” she wrote.
“The plain distinctions between this statement and the prior one — apparent to the court and both parties — demonstrate that far from being arbitrary or standardless, the Order’s prohibition on ‘targeting’ statements can be straightforwardly understood and applied,” she wrote.
Chutkan also noted that the prosecution asked the court “to incorporate the Order into Defendant’s conditions of release.”
She decided against the government in that request.
Trump is facing four felony charges in the case related to his challenge of the 2020 presidential election results and the resulting Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol incursion.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.