A federal judge has reinstated a gag order she previously ordered on former President Donald Trump in the Department of Justice’s federal election case accusing him of trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan had initially approved President Trump’s request for an administrative stay, or pause, on the gag order requested by government prosecutor special counsel Jack Smith. The gag order prohibited remarks that would "target" the prosecution and defense legal teams, court staff, and potential witnesses.
In Judge Chutkan's initial written opinion, she dismissed arguments made for First Amendment defenses, writing that the obligation to protect the proceedings from outside interference preceded First Amendment rights.
President Trump’s legal team had requested the pause while the merits of the case were being considered by an appeals court. They said the gag order would deny his protected political speech, and the rights of President Trump's audience to hear his remarks.
However, the government filed its opposition to the temporary lifting of the gag order, after which President Trump had three days to file a response to the opposition, which he did on Saturday.
"The Gag Order would not have done anything to prevent a national discussion of this issue during a campaign. Thus, the only thing the Gag Order would accomplish is ensuring that President Trump could not respond to inappropriate prosecutorial or witness leaks, an obviously impermissible and wholly unconstitutional goal,” Trump’s attorneys argued.
With arguments from both sides now made, the judge has sided with the prosecution, denying President Trump’s request to pause the gag order during the appeals process. The ruling appeared in a docket entry on Sunday night, but the details of the ruling have not yet been made public.
President Trump responded to the judge’s action in a late Sunday post on his social media platform Truth Social, saying that his First Amendment rights had been breached.
"The Corrupt Biden Administration just took away my First Amendment Right To Free Speech," he wrote. "NOT CONSTITUTIONAL!"
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) came out to advocate for what it believes are President Trump's First Amendment rights in a rare statement of support, describing Judge Chutkan's order as "vague" and "impermissibly broad" in restricting the former president's free speech.
President Trump is also subject to a gag order in the civil case in New York being pursued by Attorney General Leticia James.
In recent submissions for the election case, the defense has added in its arguments that President Trump was never charged with inciting violence on Jan. 6. They are seeking to strike prosecutors’ public statements that have implied this as a given fact from the indictment.
President Trump has pleaded not guilty to the charges that he plotted to unlawfully interfere in the counting of votes and block the congressional certification of contested state votes on Jan. 6, 2021.