Appeals court upholds gag order on Trump but narrows restrictions on his speech

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A federal appeals court in Washington on Friday upheld a gag order on former President Donald Trump in his 2020 election interference case but narrowed the restrictions on his speech.

The three-judge panel’s ruling modifies the gag order to allow the Republican 2024 presidential front-runner to make disparaging comments about special counsel Jack Smith.

But the court upheld the ban on public statements “about known or reasonably foreseeable witnesses concerning their potential participation in the case.”

Trump, who has described the gag order as unconstitutional muzzling of his political speech, could appeal the ruling to the full court or to the Supreme Court.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan imposed the gag order in October, barring Trump from making public statements targeting Smith and other prosecutors, court staff and potential witnesses. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit had lifted the gag order while it considered Trump’s challenge.

Prosecutors have argued the restrictions are necessary to protect the integrity of the case and shield potential witnesses and others involved in the case from harassment and threats inspired by Trump’s incendiary social media posts.

The order has had a whirlwind trajectory through the courts since prosecutors proposed it, citing Trump’s repeated disparagement of the special counsel, the judge overseeing the case and likely witnesses.

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