OAN’s Daniel Baldwin
4:38 PM – Friday, October 21, 2023
Former President Donald Trump’s legal team filed a motion to stay the gag order imposed by a federal judge in Washington, DC this week.
“No Court in American history has imposed a gag order on a criminal defendant who is campaigning for public office—least of all, on the leading candidate for President of the United States,” wrote Trump attorney John Lauro.
District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is presiding over the case, agreed to stay the order temporarily. Chutkan ordered the prosecution to file any opposition by Wednesday, October 25th and a subsequent reply by the Trump team by Saturday, October 28th.
“At bottom, the Gag Order violates virtually every fundamental principle of our First Amendment jurisprudence,” Lauro wrote. “It imposes an overbroad, content-based prior restraint on the leading Presidential candidate’s core political speech—notwithstanding the Supreme Court’s instruction that First Amendment rights have their fullest and most urgent application precisely in the conduct of campaigns for political office. Likewise, by restricting President Trump’s speech, the Gag Order eviscerates the rights of his audiences, including hundreds of millions of American citizens who the Court now forbids from listening to President Trump’s thoughts on important issues.”
Chutkan had previously imposed a gag order on “any interested parties” from attacking Special Counsel Jack Smith, his staff, any staff of the court, or any possible witness in the case.
“The prosecution did not present any evidence that President Trump harassed or intimidated anyone,” Lauro wrote. “Rather, the prosecution relied exclusively on the allegation that third parties, with no relationship to President Trump, engaged improperly with political actors—most of whom had already been criticized by millions of people across the country before President Trump commented on them.”
“The prosecution also did not submit any evidence that: (1) any member of its team has been threatened or harassed; (2) that any potential witness has actually felt threatened or harassed by President Trump’s core political speech; (3) that President Trump made any public statement about any “court staff,” other than the district judge herself; or (4) that any alleged threat, harassment, or intimidation by third parties could not be addressed by means less restrictive than an expansive prior restraint on President Trump’s speech,” Lauro continued.
Lauro explained in the filing that the court relied on the theory that when Trump attacked people, such as Smith, they subsequently faced harassment and threats. He argued that logic was heavily flawed.
“But the Court cited no evidence that President Trump’s statements—as distinct from the statements of millions of others—caused such alleged threats or harassment, let alone that the statements were directed to inciting imminent lawless action,” he wrote.
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