US federal appeals court rejects Trump’s request to review gag order News
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US federal appeals court rejects Trump’s request to review gag order

The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit rejected former US president Donald Trump’s appeal to have a gag order against him reviewed by the entire bench—a process known as en banc rehearing—on Tuesday.

Originally imposed by US District Judge Tanya Chutkan on October 16, the gag order restricts Trump from making public statements that could potentially influence trial witnesses or the jury pool ahead of his criminal trial over alleged interference in the 2020 presidential election. Under the order, Trump and his counsel were expressly prohibited from making “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.” Trump then appealed the gag order.

A three-judge panel of the appeals court upheld most of Chutkan’s order on December 8, underscoring the gravity of their decision:

We do not allow such an order lightly. Mr. Trump is a former President and current candidate for the presidency, and there is a strong public interest in what he has to say. But Mr. Trump is also an indicted criminal defendant, and he must stand trial in a courtroom under the same procedures that govern all other criminal defendants. That is what the rule of law means.

However, the judges did find parts of the gag order excessively broad, permitting Trump certain freedoms. Trump has been allowed to criticize the Biden administration and the Justice Department and even assert that the prosecution led by special counsel Jack Smith was politically motivated.

Facing charges of conspiring to overturn the 2020 election results, Trump has pleaded not guilty. His attorneys have argued that the gag order infringes upon his First Amendment rights, particularly as he campaigns for a return to the presidency.

With the appeals court’s decision, the focus now shifts to whether the Supreme Court will take up Trump’s appeal on the gag order.