OGUN Nigeria (VOICE OF NAIJA)- On Monday, a federal appeals court will hear arguments over the reinstatement of a gag order against Donald Trump in the federal lawsuit where he is accused of conspiring to rig the 2020 presidential election.
Prosecutors with special counsel Jack Smith’s team will urge a three-judge panel of the Washington-based appeals court to put back in place an order barring the former President from making inflammatory statements about lawyers in the case and potential witnesses.
According to the prosecution, the limitations are required to stop Trump from eroding public trust in the legal system and intimidating witnesses who might be asked to testify against him.
Defense attorneys claim that the prosecution have not shown any proof that Trump’s remarks have hurt anyone or instilled fear in anyone, and they have labeled the gag order as an unlawful restriction on their client’s freedom of speech.
The gag order is one of multiple contentious issues being argued ahead of the landmark March 2024 trial. Defense lawyers are also trying to get the case dismissed by arguing that Trump, as a former president, is immune from prosection and protected by the First Amendment from being charged.
The outcome of Monday’s arguments won’t affect those constitutional claims, but it will set parameters on what Trump as both a criminal defendant and leading presidential candidate can and cannot say ahead of the trial.
The order has had a whirlwind trajectory through the courts since U.S District Judge Tanya Chutkan imposed it last month in response to a request from prosecutors, who cited among other comments Trump’s repeated disparagement of Smith as “deranged.”
The judge lifted it days after entering it giving Trump’s lawyers time to prove why his words should not be restricted. But after Trump took advantage of that pause by posting on social media comments that prosecutors said were meant to sway his former chief of staff against giving unfavorable testimony, Chutkan put it back in place.
Later, while it reviewed Trump’s appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuitlifted it.