Former President Donald Trump asked a federal appeals court late Thursday to lift the gag order against him in his criminal case over the 2020 election while the order is appealed, after a judge reimposed it earlier this week—and suggested that if the appeals court doesn’t rule in his favor, he plans to take his fight to the Supreme Court.
Trump is appealing a gag order imposed by U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, which prohibits him from making public statements that “target” Justice Department Special Counsel Jack Smith or his staff; defense counsel and their staff; any court staff or “any reasonably foreseeable witness or the substance of their testimony.”
Chutkan briefly paused the order after Trump first appealed it but then reimposed it Sunday night, and has found the gag order is necessary because Trump’s statements “pose sufficiently grave threats to the integrity of these proceedings that cannot be addressed by alternative means.”
In the court filing Thursday, Trump’s attorneys argued the appeals court should pause the gag order until it rules on whether to throw it out entirely, claiming the order violates his First Amendment rights and the rights of his supporters.
Trump’s “uniquely powerful voice” has been “central to the American fabric for decades,” and “the prosecution’s claim that his core political speech suddenly poses a threat to the administration of justice is baseless,” his attorneys allege, claiming the order also “shields public figures from public criticism” because the prosecutors and potential witnesses Trump’s barred from speaking about are high-level officials.
The ex-president asked the court to expedite his request “to the greatest extent possible” and pause the gag order immediately while it considers the issue, before coming out with a more lasting ruling on whether to lift the order by November 10.
If the court doesn’t ultimately lift the gag order while the appeal plays out, Trump asked the court to extend a shorter pause on the order for seven days so that he can appeal his request to the Supreme Court.