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Trump gag order back in effect in federal election interference case

Former U.S. President Donald Trump waves after speaking to the media during the third day of his civil fraud trial in New York on Oct. 4, 2023.

Angela Weiss | AFP | Getty Images

A gag order in the federal election interference case against former President Donald Trump was back in effect Sunday after the presiding judge ended her pause on the order.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan had granted Trump’s defense team an administrative stay, meaning the gag order was on hold while the defense pursued an appeal.

But on Sunday, Chutkan signed an opinion that lifted her Oct. 20 stay, essentially putting the gag order back into effect. The order prohibits Trump from making statements about potential witnesses or disparaging comments about the prosecutors.

The team of federal special counsel Jack Smith asked for the gag order to “protect the integrity of the trial and the jury pool” from being influenced by Trump’s statements on the case, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Trump’s legal team did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the former president issued a statement on his social media platform, Truth Social:

“The Corrupt Biden Administration just took away my First Amendment Right To Free Speech. NOT CONSTITUTIONAL! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN…”

Trump has frequently argued, without evidence, that this and other state and civil cases against him are part of attempts by President Joe Biden to thwart his effort to return to the White House as the probable Republican presidential nominee for 2024. Chutkan has said he can continue to express this opinion, subject matter that is outside the scope of the gag order.

Chutkan’s gag order said, “testimony cited by the government demonstrates that when Defendant has publicly attacked individuals, including on matters related to this case, those individuals are consequently threatened and harassed.”

Trump’s attorneys had said the order was overbroad and would result in the former president suffering “irreparable injury” to his First Amendment rights.

A federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., indicted Trump on conspiracy to defraud the U.S., conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction, and conspiracy against the right to vote and to have one’s vote counted — all related to his alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election he lost to President Joe Biden.

Trump pleaded not guilty to all counts.

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