Former President Trump's online tirades landed him with a gag order from a New York judge. Now he faces the prospect of similar restrictions from a federal court in Washington, D.C. U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan is set to hold a hearing Monday on whether to limit Trump’s ability to discuss criminal charges that he conspired to overturn the 2020 election results as he runs for the White House. A gag order would pose the dilemma of how to enforce restrictions on a former president who considers it a right to disparage the criminal justice system as it closes around him, reports the Wall Street Journal. Chutkan is weighing Trump’s First Amendment rights against a prosecutors' request for a “narrowly tailored” order barring Trump from making “near-daily” social media attacks on witnesses and others tied to the case. The government argues those statements could undercut public confidence in the judicial system, intimidate the court and contaminate the jury pool.
Trump’s lawyers say “the prosecution now asks the Court to take the extraordinary step of stripping President Trump of his First Amendment freedoms during the most important months of his campaign against President Biden." "No one pushes the buttons of judges and prosecutors like he does,” said John Fishwick Jr., a former U.S. Attorney in Virginia. “The test for the legal system is to properly contain him and not do it in such a way that it impacts future cases.” In a court filing, federal prosecutors highlighted a social-media post in which Trump called the special counsel’s office a “team of Lunatics that are working so hard on creating Election Interference.” Smith’s team also cited a social-media post in which Trump said retired Gen. Mark Milley, a witness cited in the case, had committed treason during his tenure as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Former Trump White House lawyer Ty Cobb said, “His hope is he can provoke Judge Chutkan into enforcing it in a way that he can then play the victim card, which he does well with his devotees.” While jailing Trump for violating a gag order would be unlikely, Chutkan could fine his lawyers or move up his March 2024 trial date to minimize the chances that his comments could influence witness testimony and the jury pool.