The federal judge overseeing Donald Trump’s election fraud case in Washington, D.C., reinstated a gag order against the former president on Sunday evening, limiting what he can say publicly about witnesses and prosecutors ahead of his March 2024 trial.
U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan first imposed the terse order against Trump on Oct. 16 after a legal tussle between his team and federal prosecutors ended with her ruling that his First Amendment rights did not authorize him to launch “a pre-trial smear campaign.” to start against his supposed enemies.
After Trump’s lawyers scrambled to appeal the order, Chutkan temporarily froze it on Oct. 20 to give them more time to argue that it should be suspended indefinitely pending the appeal process. Federal prosecutors fought for restoration, writing that Trump had already “exploited” the break to send “an unmistakable and threatening message” to Mark Meadows, his former chief of staff and “predictable witness.”
On Sunday, nine days after she suspended the order, a notice that it had been reinstated was posted in the court’s electronic file – along with another notice that Chutkan had rejected the long-term stay.
Further details about the order and Chutkan’s opinion were not immediately available in the online system.
Less than an hour and a half after the gag order was filed, Trump appeared to violate it by issuing a typically fevered tirade to Truth Social aimed at his former attorney general — and a potential witness in the federal case.
“I called Bill Barr stupid, weak, slow moving, lethargic, heartless and lazy, a RINO WHO COULDN’T DO THE JOB…” Trump said in part. “I was tough on him in the White House, and with good reason, and now this idiot says about me to smooth it over, ‘His verbal skills are limited.’ Well, I’ve never heard that before. Tell that to by far the largest political audience in the history of politics. Bill Barr is a LOSER!”
After turning briefly to warmly thank Ben Carson for his support, Trump returned to his tirade. “The corrupt Biden administration just took away my First Amendment right to free speech,” he posted to his 6.4 million followers. “INCREDIBLE! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN…”
The former president also faces a separate gag order in his New York civil fraud case — an order that has already cost him thousands of dollars. On Wednesday, Judge Arthur F. Engoron called Trump to the stand for about a minute, pressed him about a thinly veiled insult he had made that morning against one of the judge’s associates, and then imposed a $10,000 fine.