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Trump Requests Freeze On Obama-Appointed Federal Judge’s ‘Breathtakingly Overbroad’ Gag Order

Former President Donald Trump requested a stay Friday on a federal judge’s “breathtakingly overbroad” gag order in his 2020 election case.

Trump’s legal team slammed the gag order issued by District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan, an Obama appointee, as violating “virtually every fundamental principle of our First Amendment jurisprudence,” requesting a stay on the order pending its appeal and a temporary administrative stay. Chutkan partially granted the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) proposed order earlier this week, issuing one that restricts Trump from making public statements targeting Special Counsel Jack Smith or his staff, the defense counsel or their staff, court staff and “any reasonably foreseeable witness or the substance of their testimony.”

No court has imposed a gag order on a criminal defendant who is running for public office, “least of all, on the leading candidate for President of the United States,” Trump’s lawyers wrote.

“[The order] imposes an overbroad, content-based prior restraint on the leading Presidential candidate’s core political speech—notwithstanding the Supreme Court’s instruction that First Amendment rights have their fullest and most urgent application precisely in the conduct of campaigns for political office,” Trump’s team said. “Likewise, by restricting President Trump’s speech, the Gag Order eviscerates the rights of his audiences, including hundreds of millions of American citizens who the Court now forbids from listening to President Trump’s thoughts on important issues.”

Chutkan said in her opinion that “the defense’s position that no limits may be placed on Defendant’s speech because he is engaged in a political campaign is untenable.”

She clarified that the order should not be construed to prevent statements “criticizing the government generally,” including statements about the Biden administration and the Department of Justice. It also does not prevent statements claiming innocence of charges, alleging politically motivated prosecution or criticizing “the campaign platforms or policies of Defendant’s current political rivals, such as former Vice President Pence.”

Trump filed his notice of appeal hours after Chutkan issued the written gag order on Tuesday.

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