D.C. appeals court rejects Trump's request to reconsider gag order ruling

 January 24, 2024

An appeals court in Washington D.C. has rejected Donald Trump's request to reconsider its ruling on the gag order in his federal election trial, leaving Trump with one last court of appeal: the Supreme Court. 

A panel of three judges from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the bulk of Trump's complaint after a November hearing.

The full appeals court then rejected Trump's request to reconsider that decision Tuesday.

D.C. court denies Trump

The gag order was handed down in October by Tanya Chutkan, the trial judge in Trump's federal 2020 election case, which is being pursued by Biden prosecutor Jack Smith.

The "limited" gag order prevented Trump from "targeting" prosecutors, including Smith, as well as court staff and witnesses.

In a December ruling upholding the gag order, the three-judge panel mostly agreed with Chutkan that Trump's comments jeopardized the so-called "integrity" of the trial, but they curtailed the scope of the order to let Trump criticize Smith more freely.

The panel, comprised of two Obama judges and one Biden judge, weighed Chutkan's vague "targeting" language at a hearing in November, where Trump's attorney, John Sauer, blasted the gag order as a chilling clampdown on political speech.

The order is particularly unusual in that it restricts Trump from commenting freely on a prosecution brought by the government of his rival, Joe Biden, who is almost certain to face Trump in a rematch in the 2024 presidential election.

Supreme Court weighs Trump cases

The refusal of the full DC. appeals court to reconsider the case tees up another explosive Trump controversy for the Supreme Court.

The high court is already scheduled to hear arguments on February 8 about efforts to remove Trump from the ballot under the 14th Amendment's "insurrection" clause.

The court is also likely to weigh in eventually on Trump's claims of presidential immunity, which were shot down by Chutkan last year.

Trump's appeal could delay his trial, which is scheduled for March in D.C.

The Supreme Court rejected a request from Smith in December to "leapfrog" the appeal, which cited a vague "public interest" in resolving the case quickly. Trump has accused Smith of trying to rush the case to secure a conviction before the election.

Trump's appeal on the immunity issue is pending before the D.C. appeals court, which is expected to issue its decision soon.

New York's top court last week rejected Trump's request to overturn a separate gag order in his civil fraud trial, which concluded this month.

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