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30 October 2023

Judge reinstates gagging order against Donald Trump over 'election interference'

30 October 2023

The federal judge overseeing Donald Trump’s 2020 election interference case in Washington has reimposed a gag order barring him from making public comments targeting prosecutors, court staff and potential witnesses.

The reinstatement of the narrow gag order was revealed in a brief notation on the online case docket on Sunday night with no details of the ruling.

US District Judge Tanya Chutkan had temporarily lifted the gag order as she considered the former president’s request to keep it on hold while he challenges the restrictions on his speech in higher courts.

But she agreed to reinstate the order after prosecutors cited social media comments about Mr Trump’s former chief of staff which they said represented an attempt to influence and intimidate a likely witness in the case.

Two separate judges have imposed orders mandating Mr Trump rein in his speech with the judge presiding over a civil fraud trial in New York issuing a monetary fine last week.

The former president said in a social media post the decision was unconstitutional.

His lawyers have said they will seek an emergency stay of the order from the US Circuit Court of Appeals, saying he is entitled to criticise prosecutors and “speak truth to oppression”.

Mr Trump, who has denied any wrongdoing in the case, has made a central part of his 2024 campaign for president vilifying special counsel Jack Smith and others involved the criminal cases against him, casting himself as the victim of a politicised justice system.

Prosecutors have said Mr Trump’s verbal attacks threaten to undermine the integrity of the case and risk inspiring his supporters to violence.

Mr Smith’s team said Mr Trump took advantage of the lifting of the gag order to “send an unmistakable and threatening message” to his former chief of staff Mark Meadows.

The former president mused on social media about the possibility Mr Meadows would give testimony to the special counsel in exchange for immunity, posting: “Some people would make that deal, but they are weaklings and cowards, and so bad for the future our Failing Nation. I don’t think that Mark Meadows is one of them but who really knows?”

In a separate case, Mr Trump was fined 10,000 dollars (£8,255) after the judge in his civil fraud trial in New York said he had violated a gag order.

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