Appeals court largely upholds Trump’s federal gag order

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A federal appeals court has largely upheld a gag order on Donald Trump, concluding that Trump’s rhetoric poses “real-time, real-world consequences” that threaten the integrity of his upcoming criminal trial over his attempts to subvert the 2020 presidential election.

A three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Trump’s complaints about free speech and his presidential candidacy ring hollow when juxtaposed with the “imminent” threats his invective has posed to witnesses and the court proceedings themselves.

“The court had a duty to act proactively to prevent the creation of an atmosphere of fear or intimidation aimed at preventing trial participants and staff from performing their functions within the trial process,” Judge Patricia Millett wrote for the unanimous court. She and the other two judges on the panel are Democratic appointees.

However, the appeals panel narrowed the original gag order, imposed in October by U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan. The panel ruled that Trump remains entitled to criticize various figures who played a role in the 2020 election saga as long as he does not zero in on their potential testimony at the trial, scheduled to begin March 4. The appellate judges also concluded that Chutkan’s restriction on Trump’s ability to criticize prosecutors and court staff in the case “sweeps too broadly.”

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