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Trump’s statements pose ‘grave threats’ to court proceedings, Judge Chutkan says in written gag order


By Katelyn Polantz, Senior Reporter, Crime and Justice

Washington (CNN) — US District Judge Tanya Chutkan has put into writing her limited gag order that bars Donald Trump from making public statements about witnesses who might testify against him in the federal election subversion case as well as prosecutors and court staff.

Trump’s public statements pose “grave threats to the integrity of these proceedings,” especially those that could be construed as harassment and intimidation, Chutkan said in the order released Tuesday.

The written order expands upon what Chutkan articulated during Monday’s hearing about restricting what Trump can say while awaiting trial.

The order specifies that it applies to all parties in the case and their counsel and also extends to others who may be directed to make public statements about the case on behalf of the parties, such as spokespeople for Trump or the Justice Department.

“All interested parties in this matter, including the parties and their counsel, are prohibited from making any public statements, or directing others to make any public statements, that target (1) the Special Counsel prosecuting this case or his staff; (2) defense counsel or their staff; (3) any of this court’s staff or other supporting personnel; or (4) any reasonably foreseeable witness or the substance of their testimony,” the written order reads.

Trump has publicly railed against the so-called gag order, calling it “unconstitutional” and vowing to appeal.

Still, Chutkan wrote that Trump is still able to criticize the government generally, including the Justice Department and the Biden administration. He can also claim that his case is politically motivated or criticize the political platforms and policies of his campaign rivals, including former Vice President Mike Pence, whom he is running against, she wrote.

Chutkan made clear that the main reason she is imposing the order is that Trump’s statements could prompt intimidation and harassment. She pointed in particular to his statements about special counsel Jack Smith and his office and possible witnesses like former Attorney General Bill Barr, Gen. Mark Milley and Pence, as well as his statements about court staff in a civil fraud case he’s facing in New York.

“Defendant has made those statements to national audiences using language communicating not merely that he believes the process to be illegitimate, but also that particular individuals involved in it are liars, or ‘thugs,’ or deserve death,” Chutkan said in the written order. “The court finds that such statements pose a significant and immediate risk.”

She also called arguments from Trump’s lawyers that his speech cannot be limited because he is campaigning for president “untenable” and not consistent with established law.

“Defendant’s presidential candidacy cannot excuse statements that would otherwise intolerably jeopardize these proceedings,” Chutkan wrote.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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