There may be some good news for Donald Trump.
Politico reported Monday that a federal appeals court panel is likely to “significantly narrow” a gag order against the former president imposed for his criminal trial in Washington.
He is facing four felony charges in the case brought by special counsel Jack Smith related to his challenge of the 2020 election and the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol incursion.
The gag order prevents Trump from publicly discussing witnesses, prosecutors and courthouse staff related to the case.
However, the panel of judges from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has concerns that the restrictions are ambiguous and could interfere with Trump’s right to campaign in the 2024 presidential election, Politico reported. He is the leading Republican in the race.
Among those expressing reservations about the gag order is Obama appointee Judge Patricia Millett, who questioned whether it could hinder his right to respond to political attacks, especially during the latter stages of a presidential campaign.
“He has to speak ‘Miss Manners’ while everyone else is throwing targets at him?” Millett said during oral arguments in the case, according to Politico.
“It would be really hard in a debate, when everyone else is going at you full bore,” she continued. “Your attorneys would have to have scripted little things you can say.”
“It’s not how I want my children to speak, but that’s really not the question,” the judge added.
Another judge to raise issues with the order is Nina Pillard, who “suggested on at least five occasions that the trial judge’s order goes too far by appearing to bar Trump from making hostile comments about individuals in the public eye who could be witnesses in the case,” Politico reported.
It is unknown exactly how the appellate court intends to proceed.
Should it refuse to block the order entirely, Trump would then have the right to take the matter to the Supreme Court.
“First Amendment protections yield to the administration of justice and to the protection of witnesses,” Chutkan said on issuing the order.
“His presidential candidacy does not give him carte blanche to vilify … public servants who are simply doing their job,” the Obama appointee said.
This specific gag order is separate from one imposed by New York Judge Arthur Engoron in the civil case against Trump, which prevents him from making public comments about the judge’s principal law clerk or other court staff.
However, a state appeals court judge last week temporarily lifted that order, with Judge David Friedman disputing Engoron’s authority to restrict Trump’s right to speak about the case.
The case, filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James, alleges fraudulent business practices within Trump’s business empire.
Trump has pleaded not guilty to all the criminal charges against him.
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