Judge Tanya Chutkan on Monday handed down a limited gag order against former President Trump in his federal 2020 election interference trial.
According to reports, Trump is now legally barred from attacking Special Counsel Jack Smith and his team with inflammatory rhetoric. Prospective witnesses and court personnel are also shielded from such verbal attacks under the order.
The judge’s decision came amid a hearing in U.S. District Court in Washington DC, during which Trump attorney John Lauro argued against the gag order, asserting that it would amount to “censorship” during the 2024 Presidential campaign
Judge Chutkan had issued a protective order in early August, restricting Trump from disclosing sensitive materials in the case, including grand jury or witness information. The Department of Justice requested the protective order after Trump posted on his Truth Social platform, in all caps, “IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU!”
That social media posting came after Trump swore before DC Magistrate Judge Moxila A. Upadhyaya that he would not intimidate witnesses or communicate with them without legal counsel present.
At the hearing on the protective order, Judge Chutkan warned Trump against further “inflammatory statements” saying she would do what she needed to keep him from intimidating witnesses or tainting potential jurors—including taking the case to trial more quickly if the protective order is breached.
Chutkan has set a March 4 start date for the federal election trial.
Trump has pleaded not guilty to four criminal counts related to alleged interference in the 2020 Presidential election: conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding and conspiracy against rights.
Altogether the former President faces a total of 91 criminal counts in four separate prosecutions at both the state—Georgia and New York—and federal levels.
Further, New York State Supreme Court Arthur Engoron issued a gag order in Trump’s civil trial related to business fraud. That gag order was handed down after Trump targeted Engoron’s principal law clerk by sharing a social media post that included her full name and a photo of her posing with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) as they both smiled. Trump’s posting falsely called the clerk “Schumer’s girlfriend” and accused her of “running this case against me.”