Trump Lawyers Urge Court to Revoke Gag Order in DC Election Case – Attorneys representing ex-President Donald Trump urged a federal appeals court on Monday to lift a gag order in the federal case accusing him of conspiring to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. “The order is unprecedented and it sets a terrible precedent for future restrictions on core political speech,” Trump attorney John Sauer told a three-judge panel.
Meanwhile, special counsel Jack Smith’s team is urging the court to reinstate an order preventing the former Republican president, Trump, from making inflammatory statements about potential witnesses and lawyers in the case. The prosecutors argue that these restrictions are necessary to prevent Trump from undermining confidence in the court system and intimidating potential witnesses.
In response, defense lawyers claim that the gag order infringes on Trump’s free speech rights and argue that prosecutors have not provided evidence that his words have caused harm or threats. During Monday’s arguments, Trump’s lawyer, Sauer, referred to the gag order as a “heckler’s veto,” criticizing the reliance on the theory that Trump’s speech might inspire others to harass or intimidate his targets in the future.
This gag order is just one of several contentious issues being debated in preparation for the landmark March 2024 trial. Defense lawyers are also attempting to dismiss the case by asserting that Trump, as a former president, is immune from prosecution and protected by the First Amendment. While the outcome of Monday’s arguments won’t impact the constitutional claims, it will establish parameters on what Trump, both a criminal defendant and a leading presidential candidate, can or cannot say leading up to the trial.
The order has undergone a tumultuous journey through the courts since U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan initially imposed it last month, citing Trump’s repeated disparagement of Smith as “deranged.” Despite the judge initially lifting the order, Trump’s social media comments during that period, allegedly intended to sway his former chief of staff’s testimony, led to its reinstatement.
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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit later lifted the order as it considered Trump’s appeal. The judicial panel, consisting of judges appointed by Democratic presidents, including Obama and Biden, is not expected to make an immediate ruling on Monday. If the judges rule against Trump, he may request the entire court to consider the matter, and his lawyers have indicated the possibility of involving the Supreme Court.
This legal saga in Washington is one of four criminal cases Trump faces as he pursues a return to the White House in 2024. The charges extend to Florida, where he is accused of illegally hoarding classified documents, as well as state court in New York and Georgia, where he faces charges related to hush money payments and allegations of scheming to subvert the 2020 presidential election, respectively. Trump has consistently denied any wrongdoing.