Narrowed Order on Trump’s Speech in Criminal Case
Court Limits Trump’s Speech on Witnesses and Individuals
A federal appeals court has issued a narrowed order that restricts former President Donald Trump from discussing individuals involved in the criminal case against him. The court ruled that Trump cannot speak about witnesses’ involvement or single out specific individuals in a way that interferes with the case. The decision emphasizes the importance of the rule of law, stating that even though Trump is a former president and a current candidate for presidency, he must be treated like any other criminal defendant.
Ban on Witness Discussion Upheld
The appeals court has upheld the ban on Trump discussing witnesses’ participation in the investigation and their likely testimony. However, the court allows Trump to make other attacks on these figures. Commentary on lawyers involved in the case, as well as court staff and their family members, is prohibited if it is intended to interfere with their work or if it is likely to result in such interference. However, all statements about special counsel Jack Smith are now permitted.
Prohibition on Targeting Individuals Deemed Too Broad
The appeals judges determined that the prohibition on Trump “targeting” individuals involved in the case was too broad and could potentially infringe on speech rights. They stated that a more specific requirement of intent, covering threats of physical harm or stalking, would be appropriate. The judges also ruled that the trial judge does not need an admission from Trump to show his state of mind but can rely on objective evidence.
Potential Influence on Trial Participants
The court recognized the trial judge’s justification for the order, which was to prevent influence on or harassment of participants in the trial. However, the judges expressed doubts about the efficacy of the order in preventing a trial in the court of public opinion. They argued that given the significance of this prosecution and Trump’s actions in the 2020 election, it would be too restrictive to limit Trump to “anodyne” statements. The judges believe that Trump should have leeway to respond forcefully to attacks from other candidates and critics, including calling potential witnesses “liars” or special counsel Jack Smith a “Trump hater.”
No Postponement of Trial
The court rejected Trump’s proposal to postpone the trial until after the election to avoid conflicts with his campaign speech. The judges pointed out that the general election is almost a year away and will occur long after the trial. Trump is seeking a delay in the trial scheduled for March through another appeal.
Gag Order on Testimony Discussion Upheld
The court upheld the gag order on any commentary specifically about how witnesses are expected to testify at trial. They recognized that Trump’s unique megaphone, amplified by social media, could potentially alter or sway witnesses’ participation and testimony. The court cited the predictable torrent of threats of retribution and violence that arise when Trump speaks out forcefully against individuals involved in the case and the 2020 election aftermath.
Addtional Restrictions on Speech May Be Necessary
The court acknowledged the possibility that the trial judge may need to impose additional restrictions on speech as the trial date approaches or circumstances change. The judge has broad authority to manage and conduct the trial and to ensure the safety of all involved.
Celebration by Trump Campaign
Trump’s campaign spokesman celebrated the ruling as confirmation that Judge Chutkan’s gag order was unconstitutional. He highlighted that all members of the panel are Democratic appointees. The ruling could be appealed to a higher court.
The appeals court has issued a narrowed order that limits former President Donald Trump’s speech in the criminal case against him. The court ruled that Trump cannot discuss witnesses’ involvement or single out individuals likely to interfere with the case. Although the court recognizes the importance of Trump’s public statements, they emphasize that he must be treated like any other criminal defendant. Trump is allowed to make other attacks on individuals involved in the case, but commentary on lawyers, court staff, and their family members is prohibited if it interferes with their work. The court upholds a gag order on discussing how witnesses are expected to testify. Additional restrictions on speech may be imposed if necessary. Trump’s campaign celebrates the ruling but acknowledges the possibility of appeal.
Read More of this Story at www.washingtonpost.com – 2023-12-08 22:21:00
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