source : www.nytimes.com
Lawyers for former President Donald J. Trump asked a Washington appeals court on Wednesday to throw out the silence order imposed on him in the federal case accusing him of conspiring to overturn the 2020 election, calling it an attempt at ‘muzzling’. a presidential candidate “at the height of his re-election campaign.”
“No court has ever imposed a silence order on the political speech of a candidate for public office, let alone the leading candidate for president of the United States – until now,” said D. John Sauer, an attorney who wrote the appeal for Mr. Trump.
Mr. Sauer’s request to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia was just the latest in a dizzying round of back-and-forth regarding the silence order, which was entered last month to prevent Mr. Trump targeted members. of the court staff, prosecutors or witnesses involved in his election interference case in Federal District Court in Washington.
Judge Tanya S. Chutkan, who initially imposed the order, briefly paused it three weeks ago to discuss some issues related to the appeal, but then reinstated it at the request of prosecutors in the Special Prosecutor’s Office, Jack Smith, after Mr. Trump. continued to violate its provisions.
Not long after, the appeals court itself temporarily suspended the order as it considered Trump’s request for a longer pause. The gag order remains suspended, at least for now, as the appeals court must determine in the next two weeks whether it should have been issued in the first place.
Many of the arguments Mr. Sauer made in his 67-page filing with the appeals court have appeared in other guises during the protracted battle over the injunction. Mr. Trump’s gagging, he wrote, was an unconstitutional “prior restriction” on not only the former president’s First Amendment rights, but also on those of “more than 100 million Americans” who deserve it to hear what he has to say.
Moreover, the order improperly limited Trump’s comments in the middle of his presidential campaign — a moment, Sauer argued, when he enjoyed “heightened First Amendment interests” as a political candidate.
Like other lawyers who tried to free Mr. Trump from the gag order, Mr. Sauer sometimes exaggerated the restrictions it placed on the former president.
For example, he claimed that the order prohibited Mr. Trump from making statements “about significant aspects of his persecution by the administration he is seeking to replace” — issues, he added, that were “inextricably intertwined” with the rule from Mr Trump. Trump is running for office.
When Judge Chutkan issued the order, she explicitly allowed Mr. Trump to criticize President Biden, his administration or what Mr. Trump characterizes as the political nature of the prosecution. But Mr. Trump was not allowed to go after members of her court staff, Mr. Smith or members of his staff, or anyone who could reasonably be expected to testify at the trial.
Mr. Smith’s team had asked for the gag order amid what they called Mr. Trump’s “almost daily” social media posts attacking Mr. Smith, other prosecutors in the case and even Judge Chutkan himself .
But Mr. Sauer scoffed at prosecutors’ claims that Mr. Trump’s comments, while threatening, had resulted in actual intimidation or threats against anyone covered by the order.
Mr. Sauer’s filing said he planned to seek emergency relief from the U.S. Supreme Court if the appeals court upheld any part of the silence order.
source : www.nytimes.com