Judge Tanya Chutkan issued a partial gag order against former President Donald Trump in his federal trial involving his alleged attempts to overthrow the results of the 2020 election.
Chutkan said she is stopping Trump from posting statements involving special counsel Jack Smith and his family as well as Chutkan's staff. Chutkan denied a gag order on additional restrictions on statements regarding Washington D.C.'s jury pool. Trump has expressed concerns about a fair trial in D.C. due to the city's heavily Democratic leaning.
"I am confident the voir dire process (jury selection) will help with those concerns," Chutkan said.
Chutkan would not impose any similar restrictions on the Department of Justice and Smith's office.
"If any party or counsel violates this, I will consider sanctions as necessary," she said.
Smith said the limitation is necessary because the former president's posts on social media may threaten the legal process. But attorneys for Trump say this is an attempt to "unconstitutionally silence" him, arguing that he has a right to speak freely under the First Amendment.
Trump is accused of emboldening protesters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in an attempt to block the certification of President Biden's electoral victory. Smith is concerned the former president will use that same influence to intimidate potential witnesses or jurors before the trial begins next year.
Former federal prosecutor David Weinstein said Chutkan would have to balance Trump's free speech rights against the prosecutors' concerns.
"I think that this judge will look at a variety of gag orders that have been issues both in and around the district, and fashion one that allows people to have free speech, and then also requires them not to say something that's going to influence the outcome of this case outside the court," Weinstein said.
In a separate civil case in New York, Judge Arthur Engoron issued a limited gag order against the former president after he posted a photo of the judge's law clerk on social media.
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