Appeals Court Denies Trump’s Request To Review Gag Order Appeal

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has denied a request from former president and current GOP primary frontrunner Donald Trump for the full court to hear his appeal of District Judge Tanya Chutkan’s gag order stifling his right to free speech during a presidential campaign.

On December 18, Trump asked the full D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to review his appeal after a three-judge panel of the court upheld the gag order with minor changes earlier that month. The court denied his request in a brief order on Tuesday, setting the stage for Trump to appeal the issue further to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The slightly altered gag order will remain in place — which lifted the portion of Chutkan’s original order barring Trump from making statements about Special Counsel Jack Smith, and narrowed the section of the order restricting his speech about witnesses to only include comments about “their potential participation in the investigation or in this criminal proceeding.”

“Mr. Trump’s documented pattern of speech and its demonstrated real-time, real-world consequences pose a significant and imminent threat to the functioning of the criminal trial process in this case in two respects,” Obama-appointed Judge Patricia Millett claimed in her December 18 opinion.

The gag order was initially imposed in October. After being narrowed by the D.C. Circuit, the order still prevents Trump from making public comments targeting “(1) counsel in the case other than the Special Counsel, (2) members of the court’s staff and counsel’s staffs, or (3) the family members of any counsel or staff member—if those statements are made with the intent to materially interfere with, or to cause others to materially interfere with, counsel’s or staff’s work in this criminal case, or with the knowledge that such interference is highly likely to result.”

The case, which centers around Trump’s actions related to the 2020 election and the January 6 Capitol protests, is currently on hold by order of Chutkan — as another one of Trump’s appeals is currently making its way through the court system.

The former president has appealed Chutkan’s refusal to dismiss the case based on his presidential immunity argument. While Smith attempted to bypass the typical court process by demanding that the Supreme Court expedite a ruling on the matter so that he could go to trial just a few days before Super Tuesday, the high court declined to take up the case until it makes its way through the proper appeals process.