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Judge Resumes Gag Order Restricting Trump’s Speech On Political Persecution

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Image CreditGage Skidmore / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0, edited with Canva

Obama-appointed D.C. District Judge Tanya Chutkan reinstated a gag order against former President Donald Trump Sunday night, even though a federal appeals court in Washington has yet to review it. The vague gag order chills the former president’s ability to freely campaign on two of the most important issues ahead of the 2024 election: the integrity of the 2020 election and the ongoing interference in the 2024 election by the Biden Department of Justice in its political persecution of Trump.

As of last night, Trump and other “interested parties” — a catchall that Trump’s lawyers fear would include certain members of his campaign — are prohibited from making any public statements that “target” Special Counsel Jack Smith and other “government staff.” 

Trump’s lawyers argue that the order is a violation of the former president’s right to free speech and is inhibiting the campaign of President Biden’s primary political opponent at a crucial moment in the election cycle. Even the radical leftist American Civil Liberties Union opposes the gag order, describing it as “unconstitutionally overbroad” and adding that Trump “cannot possibly know what he is permitted to say, and what he is not.”

Chutkan disagrees, claiming “First Amendment rights of participants in criminal proceedings must yield, when necessary, to the orderly administration of justice.”

In response to Trump’s “repeated appeals to broad First Amendment values,” Chutkan quoted a previous court case, asserting it is essential that “an order against extrajudicial statements applies to all parties to a controversy,” and “The concept of a fair trial applies both to the prosecution and the defense.” 

Chutkan is not including “all parties,” however. As journalist Julie Kelly pointed out, “If the gag order should apply to all parties…shouldn’t it apply to ‘foreseeable witnesses’ like AG Bill Barr, who spends all of his time attacking Trump in public?” Former Attorney General William Barr, who is a likely witness for the prosecution, has made routine appearances on national television bashing Trump and claiming that Trump “knew” the 2020 election was not stolen.

The gag order and the entire case cast a chilling effect over a national debate about whether or not the 2020 election was rigged and whether future American elections are secure. The 2020 election saw unprecedented changes to hundreds of election laws and processes thanks to leftist groups using cash from Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg to meddle in swing state local election offices. This included the implementation of mass mail-in voting, which is proven to be more susceptible to voter fraud and errors compared to in-person voting, and it is known to favor Democrats over Republicans. The 2020 election was also marred by Russia-collusion hoaxers’ years-long effort to discredit Trump, and the systemic suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story. 

The problems in the 2020 election and the current election interference posed by the Biden DOJ’s prosecutions against Trump are arguably the most central issues in the 2024 election. The gag order means that Biden can freely discuss both issues on the campaign trail, while Trump cannot.

As Trump said after the gag order was reinstated, the order “will put me at a disadvantage against my prosecutorial and political opponents. … How can they tell the leading candidate that he, and only he, is seriously restricted from campaigning in a free and open manner?”

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