The Obama-appointed judge overseeing the federal election interference cast against former President Donald Trump will decide as soon as Monday whether to issue a gag order that effectively prevents Trump from making public statements about the case.
A gag order is being pursued by Biden Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith, who previously argued that President Trump’s penchant for criticizing him and other Democratic prosecutors in his four criminal cases is tainting the pool of potential jurists who will decide whether President Trump knowingly encouraged the riots on January 6th, 2021.
U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan will hear both sides as she contemplates whether to order President Trump to refrain from attacking potential witnesses, prosecutors, and court officials, according to POLITICO. The president has previously referred to the lead prosecutor as “Deranged Jack Smith” and cited his history of pursuing “political hit jobs” against elected officials. Smith is also leading a separate federal case against President Trump related to the handling and storage of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.
President Trump, who has argued his frequent lamentations on Truth Social are protected under the First Amendment, would face his first reckoning with the court system if the gag order were to be ordered and would be tested by whether or not he could abide by the decision. Judge Chutkan has previously warned President Trump about his statements and hinted that she could speed up the trial process in order to reduce the likelihood of prejudice among the jury pool. Court watchers are also speculating whether Chutkan would take the aggressive step of limiting President Trump’s access to the internet if he were to violate the gag order.
While Judge Chutkan has vowed that politics will not affect her decision, lawyers for President Trump have argued that any gag order would set a dangerous precedent limiting the ability of the GOP frontrunner to defend himself and speak publicly about a litany of criminal and civil cases that are defining the media coverage of his reelection campaign. The 45th president’s ability to spin record-high levels of support out of his various prosecutions has stunted his rivals for the GOP’s nomination as they struggle to stay on the right side of the party’s base who believe the cases against President Trump are politically motivated.