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The federal judge overseeing former President Donald Trump’s Jan. 6 case openly chastised him in court on Monday before ruling on a request for a limited gag order filed by special counsel Jack Smith’s team.
According to CNN, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, an Obama appointee, issued an order that “restricts Trump’s ability to publicly target court personnel, potential witnesses, or the special counsel and his staff.” The outlet also reported that the “order did not impose restrictions on disparaging comments about Washington, DC, – where the jury will take place – or certain comments about the Justice Department at large, both of which the government requested.”
“This is not about whether I like the language Mr. Trump uses,” Chutkan said. “This is about language that presents a danger to the administration of justice.”
“His presidential candidacy does not give him carte blanche to vilify public servants who are simply doing their jobs,” the judge added.
CNN noted further:
Following the two federal indictments against the former president, Trump has lashed out against prosecutors, potential witnesses and the judge overseeing the election subversion case in Washington. Prosecutors with special counsel Jack Smith’s office say these comments are enough to warrant a narrow restriction on Trump’s speech around the case.
Chutkan, often the target of Trump’s attacks, warned the former president that comments he or his attorneys make could threaten the case.
“Mr. Trump is a criminal defendant. He is facing four felony charges. He is under the supervision of the criminal justice system and he must follow his conditions of release,” Chutkan said Monday during the hearing.
“He does not have the right to say and do exactly what he pleases. Do you agree with that?” she asked Trump attorney John Lauro, who responded: “100 percent.”
The Trump legal team previously attacked Smith’s requests for gag orders as antithetical to the former president’s First Amendment rights, especially as he is campaigning for president again. They also suggested that the order is just another way President Joe Biden and his Justice Department are trying to handicap him ahead of the election.
Lauro, meanwhile, has also accused the special counsel’s office of trying “to prevent President Trump from speaking out about the issues of the day,” adding, “Every single issue that relates to this case also has political issues.”
On his Truth Social platform, Trump has attacked Chutkan as a “biased, Trump Hating Judge” and called Smith “deranged” and a “thug,” as well as members of Smith’s team.
“When you start to use a word like ‘thug’ to describe a prosecutor doing their job, that wouldn’t be allowed by any other criminal defendant,” Chutkan noted in her ruling. “Just because the defendant is running a political campaign does not allow him to do whatever he wants.”
She added: “If the message Mr. Trump wants to express is ‘my prosecution is politically motivated,’” he can do so without using “highly charged language.”
At one point during the hearing, Chutkan asked Lauro, “In what kind of case do you think it would be appropriate for a criminal defendant to call the prosecutor a thug and stay on the streets?”
“‘Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest’ comes to mind,” Chutkan added.
Lauri responded by blasting the proposed restrictions, saying, “What kind of words does someone use to battle oppression” or a society that he believes is careening towards “totalitarianism.”
“President Trump firmly believes that these proceedings are brought by a politically motivated prosecutor,” Lauro added.
CNN noted further:
During the hearing, Chutkan took issue with Lauro saying “what you have put in place is working,” regarding Trump’s release conditions. The judge laughed loudly in response to Lauro’s statement, and told the attorney to stop making political arguments in her courtroom.
Arguments put forth by Lauro have prompted Chutkan to cut him off several times, as he argues Trump should not be restricted on what he can say while campaigning for president.
Lauro at one point accused the special counsel’s office, through the proposed gag order, of trying “to prevent President Trump from speaking out about the issues of the day.”