A federal judge, Tanya Chutkan, has reinstated a gag order on former President Donald Trump in his criminal election interference case. This comes after Trump argued that the restrictions on his speech were unconstitutional. The gag order prohibits Trump from publicly targeting prosecutors, likely witnesses, and members of the court's staff. Judge Chutkan's ruling noted that during the temporary pause on the gag order, Trump had attacked his last White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, who is likely to be called as a witness in the case.
Less than 90 minutes after the judge's decision, Trump posted a separate attack on his last attorney general, William Barr, calling him "dumb" and "weak." Barr is also a potential witness in the case against Trump and was mentioned by name in Chutkan's order. It is unclear if Trump's attack on Barr violates the gag order.
Trump has been charged with conspiring to overturn his loss to President Joe Biden in the 2020 election and has pleaded not guilty. His presidential campaign speeches have been filled with attacks on special counsel Jack Smith and potential witnesses in the case.
Trump's lawyers had asked for a longer stay of the gag order while they appealed it in a higher court. However, legal experts believe that Trump's appeal is unlikely to succeed. Neal Katyal, former U.S. acting solicitor general, called Judge Chutkan's order "excellent" and said it "destroys Trump's claims."
Trump's lawyers argued that the gag order was overly broad and vague and amounted to a prior restraint on a leading political candidate. They claimed that the only justification for the gag order was concern that Trump's statements could lead to threats against prosecutors, witnesses, and court staff.
As of now, Trump faces active gag orders in two separate cases. The presiding judge in the New York civil case accusing Trump and his business of fraud has barred him from making public statements attacking the judge's staff. Trump has already violated that gag order twice, resulting in $15,000 in penalties.