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Obama-Appointed Judge Slaps Trump With Gag Order

The federal judge overseeing the 2020 election case against former President Donald Trump imposed a limited gag order on him Monday. That means Biden’s weaponized Justice Dept. has banned Trump from making statements targeting prosecutors, possible witnesses, and the judge’s staff.

The order from U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan is a milestone moment in the federal case that accuses Trump of illegally conspiring to overturn his 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden.

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Mollie Hemmingway, the editor of the Federalist, blasted the Obama-appointed judge.

“Terrifying, republic-destroying attack on free elections, freedom of speech as judge prohibits leading GOP contender from talking about the corruption of his government opponents, or criticizing the government that seeks to imprison him for political differences,” she wrote on Twitter.

Special counsel Jack Smith’s team had raised alarm about a barrage of statements disparaging prosecutors, the judge and prospective witnesses. Those comments, prosecutors said, risked undermining public confidence in the court system and causing witnesses or people who might be picked as jurors for trial to feel harassed and intimidated.

Chutkan said there would be no restrictions on statements criticizing the Justice Department generally or statements about Trump’s belief that the case is politically motivated.

The judge said Trump can’t mount a “smear campaign” against prosecutors and court personnel.

“No other criminal defendant would be allowed to do so, and I’m not going to allow it in this case,” she said.

Trump’s lawyers fiercely opposed any gag order, saying it unconstitutionally hinder his political speech. A Trump spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the judge’s ruling.

Sean Davis, the co-founder of the Federalist, called on the former president to defy the order.

“A corrupt Biden White House just used its corrupt DOJ to get a corrupt left-wing judge to ban Trump from criticizing his actual opponent in the 2024 election: DOJ. Trump needs to defy this insane order and dare them to arrest him to prove how insane this all is,” he wrote on Twitter.

In seeking a gag order, Smith’s team accused the 2024 GOP presidential front-runner of using online attacks to try to taint the jury pool.

Trump’s lawyer John Lauro accused prosecutors of “seeking to censor a political candidate in the middle of a campaign.” But the judge shot back that Trump “does not have a right to say and do exactly as he pleases.”

“You keep talking about censorship like the defendant has unfettered First Amendment rights. He doesn’t,” Chutkan said. “We’re not talking about censorship here. We’re talking restrictions to ensure there is a fair administration of justice on this case.”

Chutkan, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, repeatedly warned Trump’s lawyer to keep politics out of the courtroom, and she cut him off when he suggested the case was politically motivated.

Prosecutor Molly Gaston on Monday had told the judge Trump’s lawyers were arguing their client is “above the law” and not subject to the same rules as other defendants. Gaston said Trump knows that his posts “motivate people to threaten others,” and she argued those can not only pollute the jury pool but also can chill witnesses.

“We have no interest in stopping the defendant from running for office or defending his reputation,” she said.

Chutkan also read aloud statements Trump has made about her, deriding her as a “radical Obama hack.” Although she said she was “less concerned” about statements that Trump has made about her, she said his free speech doesn’t extend to language that knowingly invites threats and harassment of “people who are simply doing their jobs.”

The gag order proposal underscored the unprecedented complexities of prosecuting the GOP presidential primary front-runner, who has made the line of attack central to his campaign. And it presented a big test for Chutkan, who must balance Trump’s First Amendment right to defend himself publicly with the need to protect the integrity of the case.

It marked the beginning of what could be an extraordinary fight over what limits can be placed on the speech of a defendant who is also running for America’s highest public office. Any gag order from Chutkan is likely be challenged on appeal and could ultimately end up before the U.S. Supreme Court, legal experts have said.

From Associated Press

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