The left-wing district judge in charge of overseeing the Biden administration’s criminal prosecution against former President Donald Trump over his First Amendment right to claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen confirmed to her court on Friday that the Republican’s third presidential campaign is subject to interference by her and federal prosecutors.
Tanya Chutkan, the U.S. District Judge in Washington D.C., not only admitted during proceedings that she finds the pure existence of Trump’s 2024 run a threat to the government’s Jan. 6 case against him but also that she has no issues legally curbing his speech on the campaign trail.
“What the defendant is currently doing — the fact that he’s running a political campaign has to yield to the orderly administration of justice. If that means he can’t say exactly what he wants to say about witnesses in this case, that’s how it has to be,” the Obama appointee said in comments transcribed by reporters.
Trump has repeatedly labeled the cases against him, including the most recent conspiracy and obstruction charges from Special Counsel Jack Smith, as an attempt to interfere in the 2024 election.
“When you look at what’s happening, this is a persecution of a political opponent,” Trump said as he departed Washington D.C. last week after pleading not guilty.
“This is the persecution of the person that is leading by very, very substantial numbers in the Republican primary and leading Biden by a lot. So if you can’t beat him, you persecute him or you prosecute him. We can’t let this happen in America,” Trump added.
Chutkan acknowledged in court that Trump “like every American, has a First Amendment right to free speech.” She concluded her statement, however, by claiming that his right to speak freely “is not absolute.”
“In a criminal case such as this one, the defendant’s free speech is subject to the rules,” Chutkan said.
According to her, Trump’s First Amendment rights are “subject to the release conditions imposed at arraignment and it must yield to the orderly administration of justice.”
Trump’s attorneys, John Lauro and Todd Blanche, protested Chutkan’s assertion. Lauro specifically declared that Trump “can’t be subject to some kind of contempt trap” and that the protective order demanded by federal prosecutors would give President Joe Biden a political “advantage” in the 2024 race.
He was quickly silenced by Chutkan, who, moments after guaranteeing 2024 meddling, said she “cannot and will not factor into my decision” how the order would affect the election.
“The risk is that someone can say something in the course of a heated debate or a heated campaign and [prosecutors] are going to throw a flag,” Lauro reiterated, noting Trump was personally concerned that some of his campaign statements would be painted as witness intimidation.
Chutkan concluded by deeming “all” of Trump’s “behavior and statements are governed by conditions of release.
“He’s a criminal defendant. He is going to have restrictions like every single other defendant,” she said.
Following the events of Jan. 6, 2021, Chutkan is on record calling for consequences for Trump and those arrested in connection to the Capitol chaos. Already, she’s sentenced dozens for their roles in the riot.
“The country is watching to see what the consequences are,” she said during one sentencing hearing.