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Appeals Court Freezes Gag Order In Trump’s Election Interference Case

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Former President Donald Trump got a massive victory in his continuing struggle to be allowed to speak as his ‘election interference’ case plays out in Washington, D.C.

On Friday, a federal appeals court issued a temporary freeze to a gag order issued by the federal judge presiding over the case, CNN reported.

“In a brief order, a three-judge panel at the US DC Circuit Court of Appeals said they were pausing the gag order issued by District Judge Tanya Chutkan to give them more time to consider Trump’s request to pause the order while his appeal plays out before the court,” the report said.

“The appellate judges – Patricia Millett and Cornelia Pillard, both Barack Obama appointees, and Brad Garcia, a Joe Biden appointee – said they would fast-track Trump’s appeal of the gag order and hear arguments in the matter on November 20,” it said.

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The former president’s attorneys complained to the court that the gag order was “unconstitutional.”

“The prosecution’s request for a Gag Order bristles with hostility to President Trump’s viewpoint and his relentless criticism of the government—including of the prosecution itself,” the attorneys said. “The Gag Order embodies this unconstitutional hostility to President Trump’s viewpoint. It should be immediately stayed.”

Prosecutors had even attempted to have the former president placed behind bars for violating the gag order, which U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan rebuffed in October.

Newsweek reported that Chutkan turned away a request from the Department of Justice to put Trump in jail for violating a gag order she re-imposed on him. In a footnote reinstating the gag order, the judge denied federal prosecutors’ request to incorporate her order into the conditions of Trump’s release.

“Even assuming that request is procedurally proper, the court concludes that granting it is not necessary to effectively enforce the order at this time,” she wrote.

The order lifted a temporary hold she placed on her initial gag order, determining that “the right to a fair trial is not [Trump’s] alone but belongs also to the government and the public.”

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Chutkan “also denied Trump’s request to issue a long-term stay of the order, which bars the former president from publicly targeting court personnel, potential witnesses, or the special counsel’s team, while his appeal of it played out,” CNN added.

Former federal prosecutor and elected state attorney Michael McAuliffe told the outlet that the judge was very likely merely being “careful and deliberate” in her ruling because the case has drawn immense scrutiny.

“She certainly knows her every action, including small decisions about the gag order, will be scrutinized and appealed,” McAuliffe told Newsweek. “As such, she is taking a decidedly incremental approach. A good judge knows to wait until issues are ripe for resolution.”

Earlier last month, Chutkan temporarily froze the gag order she previously issued against the 45th president “to give the parties more time to brief her on the former president’s request to pause the order while his appeal of it plays out,” CNN reported at the time.

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The outlet added: “Chutkan also said that the Justice Department has until Wednesday to respond to Trump’s request for a longer pause on the gag order and that Trump would have until the following Saturday to reply to the government’s filing. Trump has already appealed the gag order to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals and in a 33-page filing on Friday, his attorneys urged Chutkan to pause the order while that appeal plays out.”

“Trump has already appealed the gag order to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, and in a 33-page filing on Friday, his attorneys urged Chutkan to pause the order while that appeal plays out,” CNN reported.

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