Trump asks DC Court of Appeals to review gag order in election case


Lawyers for former President Donald J. Trump on Monday asked the full federal appeals court in Washington to consider whether a gag order in the criminal case in which he is accused of conspiring to overturn the 2020 election should be further reduced or be dismissed

The request for a hearing before the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit was Trump's latest attempt to challenge the order, which was imposed on him in October by the trial judge leading the case. case in Federal District Court in Washington. Trump's lawyers asked the full court to suspend the gag order while he decided whether to hear his appeal.

Two weeks ago, a three-judge panel of the appeals court upheld the basic idea of ​​restricting Trump's public statements about the case, but narrowed the terms of the order in several important ways. As part of its reviews, the panel gave the former president greater latitude to comment on potential witnesses in the trial and attack Jack Smith, the special prosecutor overseeing the prosecution.

In its decision, the panel reached an important conclusion: that Trump's comments did not have to present a “clear and present danger” to anyone involved in the case and that the gag order could be used as a preventative measure to prevent people from suffering harm.

Trump's lawyers, in their request to the full court, specifically disagreed with the panel's ruling that the former president's speech could be restricted even if his words could not be linked to any immediate threat.

“This petition presents an issue of exceptional importance,” the attorneys wrote. “Whether a district court can muzzle the core political speech of the leading candidate for president of the United States, without regard to the First Amendment rights of more than 100 million American voters, based on speculation about possible indefinite future harms” .

In the request, D. John Sauer, a lawyer who has been handling appeals for Trump, argued that prosecutors had presented no evidence that Trump's public comments or social media posts had resulted in “any threats or harassment” or that anyone covered by the gag order had even “felt intimidated by President Trump's speech.”

The revised order prohibited Trump from pursuing witnesses in the proceedings if their comments referred to his involvement in the case. He prohibited her from attacking members of Mr. Smith's staff or court employees involved in the matter. It also protected family members from prosecutors or members of judicial staff.

If the full appeals court rejects Trump's request for a hearing or rejects his arguments after granting one, he could challenge the gag order before the Supreme Court, further entangling the justices in the election interference case.

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