A federal judge limited the scope of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) proposed gag order for former President Donald Trump after raising concerns during a hearing Monday.
United States District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan, an Obama appointee, granted the requested order in part, restricting statements about special counsel Jack Smith, his staff, witnesses and court personnel while permitting Trump to make statements about the Biden administration and DOJ, according to reports. Smith’s office requested an order last month that would restrict Trump from making “disparaging and inflammatory, or intimidating” statements about any “party, witness, attorney, court personnel, or potential jurors.”
Chutkan expressed reservations about the broadness of the DOJ’s proposed order Monday. (RELATED: Obama-Appointed Federal Judge Denies Trump’s Bid To Have Her Recuse Herself From His 2020 Election Case)
At one point during the hearing, Trump attorney John Lauro said George Orwell “would be having a field day” over prosecutors’ arguments. Chutkan replied he “definitely” would, per reports.
Yet Chutkan rejected the defense’s argument that Trump had entirely unrestricted First Amendment rights to make statements about any party in the case, noting he is still facing criminal charges.
“First Amendment protections yield to the administration of justice and to the protection of witnesses,” Chutkan said, according to Politico. “His presidential candidacy does not give him carte blanche to vilify … public servants who are simply doing their job.”
Chutkan said Trump can not, for instance, make statements calling prosecutors “deranged” or a “thug.”
“No other defendant would be allowed to do so and I’m not going to allow it in this case,” she said, per NBC News.
Chutkan permitted Trump to make statements criticizing Washington, D.C., and its residents. She said sanctions were on the table if Trump violates the order but did not specify what that may entail, according to Politico.
A Trump spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement that the order is “an absolute abomination.”
“Today’s decision is an absolute abomination and another partisan knife stuck in the heart of our Democracy by Crooked Joe Biden, who was granted the right to muzzle his political opponent, the leading candidate for the Presidency in 2024, and the most popular political leader in America, President Donald J. Trump,” the spokesperson said. “President Trump will continue to fight for our Constitution, the American people’s right to support him, and to keep our country free of the chains of weaponized and targeted law enforcement.”
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