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October 18, 2023

Monday, DC federal Judge Tanya Chutkan went along with special counsel Jack Smith’s request for a partial gag order on former President Trump in his trial over the January 6th riot. She answered his attorneys’ objections by saying that it doesn’t restrict him from criticizing the DOJ or claiming the charges are politically motivated. But he can’t specifically attack the prosecutors or court staff, which Smith claims might spark threats against them. (But it’s okay for Biden to paint Trump supporters as domestic terrorists and threats to democracy.)

Chutkan chillingly told Trump’s attorneys that Trump “does not have a right to say and do exactly as he pleases.” She said, “You keep talking about censorship like the defendant has unfettered First Amendment rights. He doesn’t. We’re not talking about censorship here. We’re talking restrictions to ensure there is a fair administration of justice on this case.” Yes, she’s not talking about censorship. She’s just telling a former President what he’s allowed to say during an election campaign, with the threat of jail looming if he happens to guess wrong about what speech is and isn’t allowed under the First Amendment.

That explanation had all the calming effect of hitting a beehive with a claw hammer. Trump immediately tweeted, "WILL APPEAL THE GAG ORDER RULING. WITCH HUNT!" (You know, that comes dangerously close to criticizing the judge.) He also said it’s not just an attempt to gag him but to silence his supporters during an election campaign.

Indeed, this could go all the way to the Supreme Court, and it should, if need be. Jeff Charles at has a good analysis of the repercussions.

Trump’s political opponents love to accuse him of “smashing norms” and posture as if they are the great defenders of “our democracy.” But they’ve destroyed faith in the justice system by politicizing and weaponizing it to the level of a Third World banana republic and are “defending democracy” by abusing the legal system to try to silence a particular candidate and keep him off the ballot.

Want to talk about “smashing norms?” First, they launched felony charges against a former President on ridiculous grounds, like possessing his own presidential documents. Then they insisted on holding the trials all at once, during the height of a presidential election campaign where he’s the leading candidate against their boss. Now, we have an unelected judge appointed by another Trump political enemy (Barack Obama) lecturing him that he doesn’t have a First Amendment right to say whatever he wants. They’re smashing norms down to the sub-atomic level.

If she really cared about ensuring the fair administration of justice, she would have thrown this garbage case out of court and sanctioned Smith for wasting the taxpayers’ time and money with it. And if she doesn’t like me saying that, too bad. It’s my First Amendment right.

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