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Judge Chutkan Issues Blunt Reminder To Trump During Hearing: ‘He’s a Criminal Defendant, Can’t Vilify Public Servants’



Judge Tanya Chutkan on Monday issued a gag order on Donald Trump.
Donald Trump in court. (Photo: Archive)

Judge Tanya Chutkan on Monday issued a gag order on Donald Trump, restricting him from making disparaging comments about court personnel, witnesses, or the special counsel in his federal prosecution related to the 2020 election. During the hearing, the judge reminded the former president that he’s a “criminal defendant” and that his presidential bid doesn’t give him the right “to vilify public servants.”

The order, aimed at preserving the administration of justice, does not limit comments about Washington, DC, or the Justice Department.

Judge Chutkan, who has often been the target of Trump’s attacks, emphasized that Trump’s candidacy does not grant him the right to vilify public servants.

“This is not about whether I like the language Mr. Trump uses. This is about language that presents a danger to the administration of justice,” the judge said.

“His presidential candidacy does not give him carte blanche to vilify public servants who are simply doing their jobs,” Chutkan added.

She also took the opportunity during the hearing to remind the former president and his legal team that he is a criminal defendant facing felony charges and warned them about the potential consequences of their comments.

“Mr. Trump is a criminal defendant. He is facing four felony charges. He is under the supervision of the criminal justice system and he must follow his conditions of release,” she continued.

“He does not have the right to say and do exactly what he pleases. Do you agree with that?” she asked Trump attorney John Lauro, who responded: “100%.”

Trump’s legal team opposed the restrictions, asserting First Amendment rights and claiming political motives. Lauro accused the special counsel’s office of attempting “to prevent President Trump from speaking out about the issues of the day,” contending that every aspect tied to the case carries political implications.

However, prosecutors argue that limits are necessary to prevent witness intimidation, citing Trump’s public posts influencing the public and leading to a threat against the court.

“We have no interest in stopping the defendant from running for office or defending his reputation, nor does our proposed order do that,” prosecutor Molly Gaston said. “This is about the participants, the witnesses, in this trial. It is limited to those individuals, and it is limited to statements that are intended to influence the venue or potential jurors.”

Chutkan warned that politics stops at the courtroom door and emphasized that the trial date remains unchanged. The trial date, set for early March, remains unchanged.

In a similar NY fraud trial, a judge issued a gag order against Trump after he attacked a court staff member.