Federal prosecutors have called on U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan to reinstate a gag order on former President Donald Trump. Their plea comes in light of recent social media posts by Trump, which they argue were an attempt to influence and intimidate a potential witness in the case, his former chief of staff, Mark Meadows.
Judge Chutkan, who is presiding over the federal case in which Trump is charged with conspiring to overturn the 2020 election results, had temporarily lifted her initial order barring Trump from making inflammatory comments about prosecutors, court staff, and potential witnesses. This suspension occurred as Trump’s legal team seeks to challenge the limited gag order in higher courts.
In a motion filed on Wednesday night, special counsel Jack Smith’s team urged Judge Chutkan to reimpose the restrictions. They pointed to Trump’s recent statements on social media and during a news conference regarding Mark Meadows, who was reported to have testified before a grand jury after receiving immunity from prosecution.
Trump’s social media musings included speculation about Meadows potentially testifying in exchange for immunity, with a portion of his post suggesting that some individuals might make such a deal, but he called them “weaklings and cowards” detrimental to the nation’s future. Smith’s team cited this post as an example of the kind of commentary the original gag order aimed to prohibit and a compelling reason for its reinstatement.
The prosecutors argued that Trump took advantage of the court’s administrative stay to convey an unmistakable and threatening message to a potential witness in the case. They emphasized the need for the court to lift the stay, expressing concerns that Trump would persist in making harmful and prejudicial attacks. Furthermore, they suggested that compliance with the gag order should be a condition of Trump’s pretrial release or that the existing condition barring communication with witnesses about the case’s facts should explicitly cover indirect messages on social media or in public speeches.
In a separate development on the same day, Trump was fined $10,000 for violating a gag order in his civil fraud trial in New York.