A federal judge has issued a gag order on former President Donald Trump, barring him from ‘attacking witnesses, prosecutors, and court staff’ involved in his criminal case.
Judge Tanya Chutkan stated that First Amendment protections must yield to the administration of justice and to the protection of witnesses.
“His presidential candidacy does not give him carte blanche to vilify…public servants who are simply doing their job,” she said.
Special Counsel Jack Smith is now requesting that the presiding judge over the case against Trump for 2020 election interference protect potential jurors from outside influence or intimidation.
This comes after Trump made a public statement on Truth Social about a law clerk during his New York civil fraud trial last week.
“Given that the defendant—after apparently reviewing opposition research on court staff—chose to use social media to publicly attack a court staffer, there is cause for concern about what he may do with social media research on potential jurors in this case,” Smith wrote in the motion.
Smith emphasized the necessity of protections for prospective jurors due to the increasing use of social media as a tool for intimidation during court proceedings.
He called for reasonable and standard restrictions to limit research conducted on potential jurors during jury selection and trial, as well as strict enforcement of measures designed to protect juror identities from the public.
Recently, Smith’s efforts were stymied in his attempt to further his investigation into the January 6th Capitol Riot by filing charges against Donald Trump.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied him access to Rep. Scott Perry’s (R-Pa.) phone records, citing protection under the Constitution’s “speech and debate” clause which shields members of Congress from being pulled into legal proceedings while carrying out their elected official duties.
Smith sought communications between Perry and other colleagues and Trump administration officials; however, this request was denied due to constitutional immunity.
“While elections are political events, a member’s deliberation about whether to certify a presidential election or how to assess information relevant to legislation about federal election procedures are textbook legislative acts,” U.S. District Judge Neomi Rao wrote in the opinion issued last week.
The decision marked the the first time an appeals court has held that lawmakers’ cell phones are subject to the same protections as their physical offices.
It also was the first significant legal setback for Smith in his bid to obtain evidence about involvement by allies of Donald Trump in the then-president’s alleged effort to overturn the 2020 election, Politico reported.
Rao, a Trump appointee, was joined by another Trump appointee, Judge Gregory Katsas, and by Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson, who was nominated by President George H.W. Bush.
A three-judge panel recently overturned a lower court decision by U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell to grant the government access to Perry’s cellphone data.
The appellate court remanded the case back to Howell for consideration of the new ruling in any future decisions regarding the case.
In addition, prosecutors have requested that U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan issue a limited gag order on former President Trump due to his continued “sustained campaign of prejudicial public statements” against witnesses, prosecutors and others involved in the Jan 6th case.
While no ruling has been made yet, prosecutors highlighted Trump’s comments concerning former Vice President Mike Pence who is both a potential witness and one of Trump’s opponents during his run for the Republican presidential nomination.