OAN’s Stephanie Stahl
11:54 AM – Monday, October 16, 2023
A federal judge presiding over former President Donald Trump’s federal election interference case has issued a gag order, limiting what he can say about those involved in the case.
Judge Tanya Chutkan’s ruling prohibits Trump from making statements or “reposting” statements that publicly target court personnel, potential witnesses, and Special Counsel Jack Smith.
Chutkan emphasized that Trump’s status as a presidential candidate does not give him complete freedom to publicly “attack” those in the case.
“This is not about whether I like the language Mr. Trump uses. This is about language that presents a danger to the administration of justice. His presidential candidacy does not give him carte blanche to vilify public servants who are simply doing their jobs,” Judge Chutkan said.
Trump has criticized those involved in the case, such as protectors, potential witnesses, and Judge Chutkan, via his social media platform Truth Social and rally speeches throughout the country.
Prosecutors now argue that his remarks justify their efforts to impose limited restrictions on Trump’s speech in regards to the case.
The ruling also comes after Trump made a series comments this week, one of which Chutkan warned could “threaten the integrity of the case.”
Trump labeled Special Counsel Jack Smith as “deranged” and referred to his aides as “thugs.”
Judge Chutkan also read a social media post by Trump that suggested General Mark Milley, a potential witness in the case, could have been executed in the past for conduct in office.
“To write in all caps ‘DEATH,’ about someone who is a potential witness — doesn’t that go too far?” Chutkan asked Trump’s attorney, John Lauro.
Lauro justified the remarks by explaining that Trump’s intent was to allude to the fact that Milley’s actions could be classified as treason, and historically, the consequence for such an offense has been death.
“If you suggest that someone is deserving of execution, then it’s not a far stretch to imagine a situation when one of the millions of followers of this person decides to go ahead and do that,” Chutkan asserted.
Despite Trump’s freedom to voice his opinions on matters of public policy while seeking a second term in the White House, Chutkan stressed that Trump cannot initiate a “pretrial smear campaign” against potential witnesses, such as former Vice President Mike Pence.
“Mr. Trump is a criminal defendant. He is facing four felony charges. He is under the supervision of the criminal justice system and he must follow his conditions of release,” Chutkan asserted on Monday during the hearing.
“He does not have the right to say and do exactly what he pleases. Do you agree with that?” she asked Lauro, who responded: “100%.”
Chutkan clarified that the gag order does not prohibit Trump from publicly criticizing Pence, as part of their rivaling presidential campaigns. However, Trump is not allowed to make statements in regard to Pence’s actions on the Jan. 6th certification of the 2020 vote and breach of the U.S. Capitol.
Additionally, if Trump violates the gag order, he could face “sanctions,” which might possibly include a monetary fine or penalty ordered by the court.
Trump’s trial is set to commence on March 4th.
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