Tanya Chutkan hits leading candidate for president with gag order; Will he comply?

by WorldTribune Staff, October 16, 2023

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan on Monday placed a gag order on former President Donald Trump in the case related to January 6.

Trump “can argue that this prosecution is politically motivated,” the judge said, but he cannot disparage special prosecutor Jack Smith by calling him a thug or “vilify and implicitly encourage violence against public servants who are simply doing their jobs.”

The Trump campaign called Judge Tanya Chutkan’s gag order imposed on Monday ‘another partisan knife stuck in the heart of our Democracy by Crooked Joe Biden.’

The gag order also blocks the former president from making comments “publicly targeting” the judge.

Trump said he will appeal the gag order, saying the judge’s restriction on his speech is “so unconstitutional.”

News coverage of Trump’s rallies and interviews are already essentially banned on most corporate media and restricted on social media platforms except Truth Social.

An analysis by Politico questioned whether Trump would comply with the order. It focused not on the unprecedented prosecution of a former president who is the leading candidate in the 2024 election. Rather it called attention to Trump’s attacks on prosecutors and potential witnesses against him.

The Trump campaign said in a statement in response to the judge’s decision:

“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. 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.”

Chutkan also barred Trump and all parties from making statements about witnesses in the case.

Smith had urged Chutkan to impose the gag order, citing Trump’s statements and social media posts critical of Smith and his team, the court, and several people who Smith said might testify against the former president. Smith argued in court papers that Trump’s statements may intimidate witnesses, stoke threats of violence, and taint the D.C. jury pool (can a 98 percent Democrat jury pool be tainted?).

Trump is already subject to a narrow gag order in another case: the New York civil fraud trial of Trump and his business empire, which Trump attended earlier this month. During the proceedings, Trump posted a social media criticism of Judge Arthur Engoron’s top clerk, including a picture of her and a link to her Instagram account. When Engoron learned of the post, he quickly ordered Trump to refrain from publicly commenting on his aides and staff.

Smith brought four counts against Trump in the case on Aug. 1. They include:

Count 1 – “Conspiracy to Defraud the United States”- 18 U.S.C. § 371
Count 2 – “Conspiracy to Obstruct an Official Proceeding” – 18 U.S.C. § 1512 (k)
Count 3 – “Obstruction of and Attempt to Obstruct an Official Proceeding” – 18 U.S.C. § 1512 (c)
Count 4 – “Conspiracy Against Rights” – 18 U.S.C § 241

Trump could serve a maximum of 55 years in prison, and could technically face the death penalty under Count 4.

Smith has aimed for a Jan. 2, 2024, trial date during an election year and less than two weeks before the Iowa caucuses.

The case is United States v. Trump, No. 1:23-cr-257-TSC in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

Prior to Chutkan’s decision on Monday, Trump posted the following on Truth Social:

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