Trump Loses Gag Order Fight Before Entire Judicial Panel in Jack Smith’s Election Case

TruPublished January 24, 2024

Trump had sought either a review by the full DC Circuit Court of Appeals or a rehearing before the three judge panel to look again at their earlier decision

A federal appeals court on Tuesday rejected Donald Trump’s requests for it to reconsider its decision mostly upholding the partial gag order against the former president in the Washington, D.C. election subversion case.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the former president’s petitions in a pair of one-page orders seeking either a rehearing before the same original three-judge panel or an “en banc” review before the entire slate of judges that sit on the court.

Petitions for en banc consideration are often a final step before federal appellants seek review by the U.S. Supreme Court. A Trump spokesman on Tuesday did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Truth Social, Trump shortly after the D.C. Circuit issued its ruling shared a 15-second campaign video that opens with the former president saying, “They want to silence me because I will never let them silence you.” It concludes with a reminder for New Hampshire voters to turn out on Tuesday for the state’s GOP primary.

Trump’s efforts to get the gag order repealed marked his latest foray in a battle against a three-page opinion and order by U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan on Oct. 17.

There, the judge presiding over the former president’s criminal case prohibited public statements that target prosecutors or their staff, defense lawyers or their staff, court staff and supporting personnel, and “any reasonably foreseeable witnesses or the substance of their testimony.”



RELATED: Appeals court declines further review of Trump Jan. 6 gag order

Published January 23, 2024

A federal appeals court declined an effort Tuesday by former President Trump to have his challenge to a gag order in his election interference case heard by the full court, teeing up a likely Supreme Court battle over restrictions to his speech.

A three-judge panel of the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals had largely upheld a lower court ruling restricting Trump’s speech in the case.

That decision largely affirmed a prior ruling from Judge Tanya Chutkan, who barred Trump from making statements that “target” foreseeable witnesses, court staff and prosecutors.

The appeals court refined that directive, barring Trump from any statements “made with the intent to materially interfere with, or to cause others to materially interfere with” the course of the case.

The D.C. Circuit’s refusal to rehear the case is likely to bring the issue to the Supreme Court next. Trump could petition the justices to review the gag order and also ask them to put it on hold in the meantime.

It is one of multiple battles in Trump’s many legal cases that have been barreling toward the justices. Already, the Supreme Court took up an appeal of a ruling kicking him off Colorado’s ballot under the 14th Amendment’s insurrection ban. Oral arguments are less than three weeks away.

Agreeing to review Trump’s gag order, however, would mark the justices’ first intervention in any of Trump’s four criminal cases since he was charged.

In D.C., special counsel Jack Smith charged Trump with four felonies, accusing him of conspiring to subvert the 2020 election results in an attempt to remain in power. Trump pleaded not guilty.

The Supreme Court may also soon confront another battle in the case: whether Trump has criminal immunity from official acts during his presidency.

The Supreme Court declined request to leapfrog the normal appeals process to immediately decide Trump’s immunity, which would’ve made it easier for Trump to go to trial earlier, instead allowing it to progress through the D.C. Circuit.



RELATED: Appeals court shoots down Trump’s bid to sideline his DC gag order

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals declined to revisit a prior ruling that upheld the gag.

Former President Donald Trump departs the Waldorf Astoria where he held a press conference following his appearance before the D.C. Court of Appeals on Jan. 9, 2024 in Washington. | Kent Nishimura/Getty Images
Published January 22, 2024

A federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. has rejected former President Donald Trump’s bid to lift a gag order that sharply restricts his ability to criticize witnesses in his criminal case for attempting to subvert the 2020 election.

In a terse ruling on Tuesday, the full 11-member bench of the appeals court — which includes three of Trump’s own appointees — opted against reconsidering a three-judge panel’s Dec. 8 decision upholding the gag order. The order was initially imposed by U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, after prosecutors requested the limitation, citing threats to witnesses, attorneys and court personnel driven by Trump’s vitriol.

Trump’s last shot to lift the gag order now lies with the Supreme Court, if he chooses to appeal further. A spokesman for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Notably, none of the judges of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals even asked for a vote on Trump’s request for the court to rehear the issue — a sign that no judge was pushing hard for further review. That stands in contrast to a decision earlier this month in which the court’s four conservatives went out of their way to raise concerns about a ruling that upheld special counsel Jack Smith’s effort to obtain Trump’s Twitter data.

The three-judge panel that backed Trump’s gag order largely agreed that Chutkan had a responsibility to restrict Trump’s speech, given the threat it posed to Trump’s prospective trial.

“The court had a duty to act proactively to prevent the creation of an atmosphere of fear or intimidation aimed at preventing trial participants and staff from performing their functions within the trial process,” Judge Patricia Millett wrote for the unanimous panel of three judges, all of whom were Democratic appointees.

Trump has assailed the gag order as an infringement of his First Amendment rights, particularly amid his resurgent bid for the presidency. But the courts have emphasized that, if Trump is not restricted in what he’s allowed to say, his continued attacks on witnesses and prosecutors will pose grave threats to the security of those individuals and the integrity of the trial itself.





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