No matter how bad he makes things for himself by continuing to run his mouth, Donald Trump just can’t shut up. He’s using his Twitter account to incriminate himself in the Trump-Russia scandal by the day. He’s also using his mouth to taint the prosecutions of military deserter Bowe Bergdahl and the recent New York City terrorist. Now Robert Mueller may be about to silence Trump by force.
This has led former Watergate prosecutor Nick Akerman to point out that “This could be grounds for Mueller to obtain a gag order on Trump” in a new Politico profile (link). We’ve learned his week of all the clever or aggressive prosecutorial ideas that have been publicly floated by experts and pundits over the past months, Mueller has already been invoking most of those ideas behind the scenes. This means Mueller may indeed be looking at getting a gag order against Trump. The big question would be what comes next after he does.
Mueller would need to get a federal judge in one of his existing Trump-Russia cases to sign off on the gag order against Donald Trump, on the grounds that Trump’s words and tweets are interfering with the sanctity of that case. Trump would be legally bound to abide by such an order. However it’s not clear what would happen if he chose to violate it. Anyone else would be held in contempt of court and possibly arrested. The judicial branch isn’t going to arrest the person occupying the office of President of the United States for violating a gag order. But the move could have other desired effects.
There have been stretches during Donald Trump’s illegitimate presidency in which he has in fact stopped posting the kinds of tweets that incriminate himself or taint existing investigations. It’s entirely possible his staff could temporarily reel him in again, for fear of the unknown consequences of violating a gag order.
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Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report