(FILE) Former US President Donald J. Trump speaks to the media before he attends the third day of his civil fraud trial in New York, New York, USA, 04 October 2023. Trump, his adult sons and the Trump family business are facing a lawsuit by the State of New York accusing them of inflating the value of assets to get favorable loans from banks. (Nueva York) EFE/EPA/PETER FOLEY

Judge issues gag order preventing Trump from insulting prosecutor and witnesses

Washington, Oct 16 (EFE). – Judge Tanya Chutkan on Monday issued a gag order prohibiting former US President Donald Trump (2017-2021) from attacking or insulting the prosecutor, court personnel, and witnesses in the case for allegedly trying to overturn the 2020 elections and promoting the Capitol assault.

The District of Columbia judge granted the gag order requested by special prosecutor Jack Smith to prevent Trump’s constant statements from interfering with the judicial process, although she limited its effect.

Chutkan decided to prohibit all parties from making statements that attack the prosecutor, his staff, potential witnesses, or any court member or their families.

She refused, however, to restrict comments disparaging the Joe Biden administration or the Department of Justice, which Trump has accused of conducting a “witch hunt” against him.

Washington (United States), 16/10/2023.- Attorney John Lauro (R), a lawyer representing former US president Donald J. Trump, departs the federal court in DC. EFE/EPA/SHAWN THEW

After learning of the decision, a Trump spokesman said the order “was an absolute abomination and another partisan knife stuck in the heart of our Democracy by Crooked Joe Biden.”

During the hearing, John Lauro, the former president’s lawyer, said, “The Biden administration is trying to censor a political candidate in the middle of a campaign.”

The lawyer also suggested postponing the trial until after the election if the “prosecutors were interested in justice.”

However, the judge responded that it was wrong to say that the restriction violated the former president’s First Amendment right to free speech.

Judge Chutkan responded that Trump is a criminal defendant facing four felony charges, adding that “he does not have the right to say and do exactly as he pleases. No other criminal defendant would be allowed to do so, and I will not permit it in this case.”

Assistant US Attorney Molly Gaston told the judge on Monday that Trump’s lawyers argued that their client was “above the law” and not subject to the same rules as other defendants.

Gaston defended the gag order, insisting that Trump’s posts “motivate people to threaten others,” she argued that his comments could influence jurors and witnesses.

Trump, who faces four criminal charges, has used social media to criticize and insult prosecutors, judges, court officials, witnesses, and political opponents in different cases.

On Sunday, he called prosecutor Jack Smith “deranged”. He accused Judge Chutkan, appointed by former President Barack Obama (2009-2017), of being biased and trying to take away his First Amendment rights.

At the hearing, Chutkan said criticism of Biden or the Justice Department was understandable. Still, she expressed concern about Trump’s attacks on the prosecutor’s family and court staff.

The judge did not specify how Trump would be punished if he violated the order, but she was cautious.

Judge Chutkan noted that Trump should be treated like any other defendant. Still, special circumstances should be considered because he is a former president.

Trump is accused in the District of Columbia of attempting to reverse the outcome of the 2020 election, which he lost to Joe Biden, and instigating the attack on the Capitol by thousands of people to prevent the ratification of the Democratic victory on January 6, 2021.

Trump also faces an indictment in New York for irregular payments to porn actress Stormy Daniels, another in Florida for taking classified documents from the White House without permission, and another in Georgia for trying to alter the election results in that state. EFE