Law professor Turley shreds proposed gag order on Trump from Special Counsel Smith

 September 20, 2023

Special Counsel Jack Smith, in his prosecution of former President Donald Trump over his post-2020 election challenges, has requested that an ostensibly "narrowly tailored" gag order be imposed on the high-profile defendant.

Yet, according to law professor Jonathan Turley, Smith's proposed gag order is "anything but 'narrowly tailored'" and instead would serve to effectively and nearly completely silence the leading GOP presidential candidate amid the 2024 election cycle, the Western Journal reported.

Further, it will lend additional credence to the belief already held by a majority of Americans that this and other criminal prosecutions of the former president are politically motivated and intended to damage Trump's chances of winning re-election next year.

Special Counsel seeks gag order against Trump, attorneys

In a 19-page motion filed Friday, Special Counsel Smith asked District Judge Tanya Chutkan to impose a "narrowly tailored" gag order that "restricts certain prejudicial extrajudicial statements" from former President Trump.

The prosecutors argued that Trump has a history of spreading "disinformation" and disparaging his opponents, and wrote, "The defendant is now attempting to do the same thing in this criminal case -- to undermine confidence in the criminal justice system and prejudice the jury pool through disparaging and inflammatory attacks on the citizens of this District, the Court, prosecutors, and prospective witnesses."

After providing numerous examples of Trump's "inflammatory and misleading" statements -- many of which are little more than his First Amendment-protected opinions and beliefs -- that they claimed would improperly influence a jury pool or intimidate other parties to the case, the prosecutors put forward their demands for a gag order to silence the former president.

That proposed order "would include (a) statements regarding the identity, testimony, or credibility of prospective witnesses; and (b) statements about
any party, witness, attorney, court personnel, or potential jurors that are disparaging and inflammatory, or intimidating."

In addition, the Special Counsel's team also asked the court to extend the proposed gag order to Trump's attorneys as well as to limit the defense team's ability to survey prospective jurors in the jury pool for the purpose of determining bias and prejudice against the defendant in seeking a change of venue out of Washington D.C.

Gag order would unfairly silence leading presidential candidate during an election

In the view of constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley, as explained in a blog post, this proposed gag order from Special Counsel Smith is "neither narrow nor wise," as it would serve to "sharply limit the ability of former President Donald Trump to publicly discuss the evidence and allegations in a case that is now at the center of the presidential campaign."

"I have long criticized Trump’s inflammatory comments over these cases, but Smith’s solution veers dangerously into core political speech in the middle of a presidential election," Turley wrote. "Ironically, Smith’s move will likely be seen as reinforcing Trump’s claim of intentional election interference by the Biden Administration."

He further wrote, "This motion, however, would impose substantial limits on a national political debate and begs the question of whether the court is failing to balance the rivaling constitutional interests in this unprecedented situation."

"One of the top issues in this presidential campaign is Trump’s insistence that the Justice Department and the criminal justice system have been weaponized by Democrats. He was running on that issue even before the four separate criminal cases were filed against him in Florida, Georgia, New York, and Washington, D.C.," Turley said to denote how Smith's motion only helped to bolster Trump's argument in that regard.

Motion bolsters majority belief that Trump indictments are politically motivated

Professor Turley pointed to a Quinnipiac poll from June which found that 62% of Americans believed the criminal indictments against Trump are motivated by politics rather than the law, and wrote, "Under Smith’s proposed motion, almost everyone (including Biden) will be able to discuss this case but Trump himself. Disparaging criticism of Smith or key accusers could land Trump in jail under an ambiguous standard. That is a rather hard standard to respect when you are alleging that Smith is part of a politically motivated hit job."

He further argued that the jury pool would already be influenced by blanket media coverage of Trump's legal woes, that Trump has a right to publicly defend himself from accusations, and that he also must be allowed to speak freely in addressing the alleged bias against him of prosecutors, the judge, and potential jurors.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
© 2015 - 2024 Conservative Institute. All Rights Reserved.