A court of appeals mostly upheld a gag order imposed by Trump in a case related to the 2020 election.

A court of appeals mostly upheld a gag order imposed by Trump in a case related to the 2020 election.


The US federal appeals court restored important elements of a COM on Friday.gag order

Restricting the statements of ex-President Donald Trump in the situation concerning his purported efforts to obstruct the peaceful transition of power following the 2020 US presidential election.

The three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit unanimously supported the ruling made by U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, which prevents the former president from publicly discussing potential witnesses in the case and their involvement in the investigation or criminal proceedings. Additionally, he is not allowed to make comments about any lawyers involved in the case, except for the special counsel, court staff, lawyers’ staff, and their family members.

Despite not being in office, Trump still has the ability to publicly denounce the Biden administration, the Justice Department, and special counsel Jack Smith. He can also persist in asserting that the charges against him are politically motivated and maintain his innocence.

The court’s stance is that while Mr. Trump holds both past and present political positions, there is significant interest in his statements. However, he is also facing criminal charges and must go through the same legal process as any other defendant. This is a reflection of the principles of the rule of law.

The decision made by the panel removes the temporary hold that was granted by the appeals court in November, allowing some of the restrictions on Trump’s public statements to be put back in place.

The decision can be challenged by Trump in the entire D.C. Circuit or by requesting urgent assistance from the Supreme Court. On his Truth Social platform, he stated his intention to “challenge this decision” without giving further details.

The office of the special counsel refused to provide a statement.

Trump’s representative, Steve Cheung, stated that the D.C. Circuit panel ruled that Judge Chutkan’s overly broad gag order was unconstitutional. Trump will continue to defend the First Amendment rights of millions of Americans who want to hear from him, especially during his campaign. Cheung also accused Biden of pursuing a witch hunt against Trump and the American people, which he believes will ultimately be unsuccessful.

The decision made by the appeals court

Former President Donald Trump attends his civil fraud trial in New York City on Dec. 7, 2023.

On December 7, 2023, ex-President Donald Trump is present at his trial for civil fraud in New York City.


The D.C. Circuit declared that the First Amendment provides strong protection for political speech. However, the judges emphasized that the presence of a political campaign or speech does not change the court’s responsibility to uphold justice in criminal cases.

According to Millett, a person participating in a trial cannot use political speech to harm or lessen the importance of the judicial process. This was recognized by Mr. Trump when he agreed to a condition of his release that prohibits him from discussing political matters with witnesses involved in the case. He cannot get around this restriction by disguising his messages to witnesses as political speech.

Trump is currently in the midst of his third presidential campaign and is ahead of the other Republican candidates competing for the party’s nomination.

The three judges, Millett, Cornelia Pillard, and Bradley Garcia, concur with the district court’s ruling that certain statements made by Trump publicly “present a substantial and impending danger” to the fairness of the current criminal case, justifying a restraining order on speech. However, the appeals court found that the order issued by Chutkan “restricts more speech than is required.”

3-0 deliberation

According to the judges, the ruling was based on finding a middle ground between protecting Trump’s freedom of speech and guaranteeing a fair trial. This was a key factor in the panel’s unanimous decision after careful consideration.

Last month’s oral proceedings

The court of appeals ultimately decided that although political expression is essential to American democracy, both the public and Trump are entitled to a just and unbiased trial, not one that is biased in his favor.

According to the panel, Mr. Trump is entitled to exercise his constitutional right to free speech, just like any other person facing criminal charges. This means that both his supporters and detractors have the right to listen to what he has to say. However, Mr. Trump’s right to speak is not without limits, similar to any other defendant in a criminal case.

She later stated: “Individuals involved in a trial, such as defendants, do not have unlimited rights under the First Amendment to utilize their knowledge or position in the trial to hinder the legal proceedings.”

The D.C. Circuit’s statement mentions multiple remarks made by Trump on social media, such as his August declaration, “If you attack me, I will retaliate!” He also referred to Judge Chutkan as a “fake judge,” a “Obama puppet,” and a “prejudiced, anti-Trump judge.” The panel also acknowledged his posts aimed at potential witnesses mentioned in the indictment from a federal grand jury in early August, including former Vice President Mike Pence and former Attorney General Bill Barr.

Smith accused Trump of trying to prevent the peaceful transfer of power after the 2020 election, resulting in four charges being brought against him. Despite this, Trump maintains his innocence.

The recent decision made on Friday was occasionally disapproving of Chutkan’s conclusion. The judges stated that it was not specifically tailored, similar to the critiques made by Trump’s legal team about the initial restraining order. However, they acknowledged that the former president’s actions have the potential to hinder both the effectiveness of the criminal trial and those involved in it. The judges noted that Trump’s public statements may impact witnesses and staff involved in the upcoming trial.

The statement stated that messages that aim to cause fear and prompt extreme safety measures will impede the trial procedure and delay the process of delivering justice.

According to Scott Michelman, the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of D.C., the organization is happy that the court used a strict First Amendment standard to protect speech regarding the judicial process. As a result, the gag order was revised to allow for open discussion of important public issues. The ACLU submitted a document in favor of Trump’s stance, arguing that the initial order was too broad.

Michelman stated that the current order strikes a suitable balance between Mr. Trump’s right to free speech and the court’s responsibility to safeguard the judicial process from a defendant who has shown a willingness to disrupt it.

Chutkan issued her order

Restricting Trump’s ability to publicly discuss the case in October, the former president was also prohibited from making inflammatory statements directed at Smith, his staff, court employees, and potential witnesses who may be called to testify.

The gag order was implemented after a request from Smith. Prosecutors had initially requested broad limitations on Trump’s comments regarding the Biden administration, the Department of Justice, and the District of Columbia, where the trial is set to take place in March.

The ex-president has continuously alleged that the Justice Department is targeting a politically driven prosecution against President Biden’s probable rival in the 2024 presidential race and has referred to Washington, D.C. as “dirty and plagued by crime.”

Reporting was contributed by Katrina Kaufman and Robert Legare.



Source: cbsnews.com