WASHINGTON D.C.—On Monday, October 16, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama filed a partial gag order against former President Donald Trump. Judge Chutkan was specific about what Trump could say publicly, giving permission for him to criticize the current administration, suggest that he is being tried unfairly, but he may not call her names. 

“Mr. Trump may still vigorously seek public support as a presidential candidate, debate policies and people related to that candidacy, criticize the current administration, and assert his belief that this prosecution is politically motivated. But those critical first amendment freedoms do not allow him to launch a pre-trial smear campaign against participating government staff, their families and foreseeable witnesses.

Mr. Trump can certainly claim he’s being unfairly prosecuted, but I cannot imagine any other criminal case in which a defendant is permitted to call the prosecutor ‘deranged’ or ‘a thug,’ and I will not permit it here simply because the defendant is running a political campaign, His presidential candidacy does not give him carte blanche to vilify and implicitly encourage violence against public servants who are simply doing their job,” said Chutkan.

“Typically, judges issue injunctions barring trial participants — including attorneys, litigants, and witnesses — from discussing trial-related material outside the courtroom. In general, courts have held that gagging people involved in trials is more acceptable than similar orders issued against the press,” states Free Speech Center discussing gag orders and the sharing of confidential information.

In September 2023, Trump’s lawyers attempted to have Chutkan recused from the election interference case as she had previously made disparaging comments against Trump during two sentencing hearings indicating a bias. Attorneys shared their belief that she could not be impartial in the case. 

Trump’s lawyer, John Lauro opposed Judge Chutkan’s gag order defending his client’s freedom of speech. “He [Trump] is allowed to make statements the prosecution doesn’t like. That’s part of living with the First Amendment.”