Fireworks in federal court over ex-president’s gag order
Judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals asked a series of probing questions about a federal judge’s “gag” order that would prevent him from “attacking” potential witnesses in the Jan. 6 case. The justices set aside Judge Tanya Chutkan’s order banning Trump from targeting court staff and witnesses following his repeated attacks on special counsel Jack Smith. But they also acknowledged the difficulty of managing the case and wondered whether the former president could use social media to actually tell a witness “don’t act treacherously – don’t cooperate” as a form of intimidation.
Trump’s lawyer repeatedly raised concerns that the order would infringe on the former president’s First Amendment rights, and members of the three-judge panel considering it have expressed doubts while asking questions about who could go after the former president. what circumstances. ‘Is Slimy Liar Seditious’? asked Judge Patricia Millet.
She asked a series of hypothetical questions to Cecil VanDevender, who argued on behalf of prosecutors. “I understand that he has not participated in debates so far,” said Millet, who then offered a hypothetical proposal in which Trump would appear on stage, and political rivals would go after him over his repeated prosecutions (Trump faces 91 charges in four criminal charges). She asked why Trump couldn’t respond by telling them it was all a “political vendetta” by prosecutors who were “following Joe Biden’s orders,” noting that “I’m not saying everything here is true” in the hypothetical.
“He can’t stand on stage and say that?” the judge wanted to know. “He needs to see Mrs. Manners while everyone else is throwing targets at him.” She also asked what things Trump could and could not say, and whether this was unauthorized targeting versus permitted expressions and protests of his innocence. “Is slimy liar seditious?” she wanted to know.
The judges showed a strong interest in balancing the suspect’s freedom of expression with the government’s interest in maintaining a fair trial, where witnesses come forward to tell the truth and court staff are not exposed to threats or intimidation. The Justice Department cited a series of inflammatory statements made by Trump, both in recent months and during a period surrounding his 2020 election efforts. “I don’t hear you giving any weight to the interests of due process. Am I right that you don’t?’ Judge Cornelia Pillard asked Trump lawyer D. John Sauer.
The government admitted that special counsel Jack Smith, whom Trump regularly calls “deranged,” is a special case, both as a prominent government representative and as a member of the judicial staff. But that raised a question, posed by justices, as to whether Trump would be free to attack lower-level “line prosecutors” in the case. The case is more than academic after Trump faced another silence order in his New York fraud case after going after Judge Arthur Engoron’s law clerk.
Her debate scenario (still hypothetical because Trump has sidelined them while his Republican rivals mostly dismiss him and attack each other) bordered on absurdity when Judge Millet asked questions about whether Trump could simply swear in general instead of calling someone a liar to call. “But he can’t say they’re lying?” she asked. VanDevender said he would be free to avoid a direct attack, and would instead say “what he said was not true, and here’s why.”
Want more stories like this from the Daily Mail? Visit our profile page here and hit the follow button above for more news you need.