The three-judge panel that heard arguments in the Donald Trump gag order controversy are all Democratic appointees. Patricia Millett and Cornelia Pallard were appointed by President Obama, and Brad Garcia was appointed by President Biden. If things don’t go Trump’s way, we’ll soon be hearing about how Democrats are out to get him. They seemed completely fair in their questions for both attorneys, and it appears that they might make modifications to the gag order rather than fully overturning it. They did, however, disagree with Trump’s argument that the gag order is a “categorically unprecedented” violation of his right to free speech. They looked closely at the issue of campaign rhetoric versus the potential damage to the underlying criminal case.
Judge Millett seemed particularly interested in the argument of Trump’s attorneys that the gag order interferes with Trump’s ability to campaign. Millett told Trump’s attorney: “First of all, we’re not shutting down everyone who speaks. This is only affecting the speech temporarily during a criminal trial process by someone who has been indicted as a felon. … No one here is threatening the First Amendment broadly.” Even as Trump’s attorney continued to claim that the gag order violates Trump’s free speech, Judge Millett disagreed. She advised him to make the distinction between “core political speech” and speech designed to derail or undermine the criminal justice process, which he really can’t do because they’re one in the same for Trump.
The circuit judges were obviously skeptical about Trump’s arguments, with good reason. Even as Trump’s lawyer was arguing against the gag order, Trump and his people were making threats. CNBC reported that Trump shared a post by Monica Crowley, a former official in his administration: “Everything you’ve been told about January 6th is bullshit. The real insurrectionists are those who framed Trump to try to stop him from ever being Presidente again – & who framed YOU as ‘domestic terrorists’ to try to crush America First. They have failed – and they will pay.” Oh, no. Trump’s not threatening anyone. He also cannot claim this post as campaign rhetoric. It is posted purely as a threat to whoever Trump sees as trying to stop him from running, which includes Jack Smith and Judge Tanya Chutkan. This is the very reason that Judge Chutkan’s gag order should remain in place. Trump will never do the right thing. He continues to think himself above the law. He feels totally free to insult and attempt to intimidate anyone he chooses, even as his lawyer was arguing the reasons the gag order should be lifted before the circuit.
Hopefully, those judges will remain skeptical. Perhaps, they might even read this latest threat, and it will help them to make the right decision. Trump does not need to be free to say any and everything he wants about anyone involved in these investigations and criminal proceedings. He also needs to leave President Joe Biden’s name out of his mouth. Biden has nothing to do with these investigations. He is far too busy trying to meet his promises to the American people, something Donald Trump will never understand.
Shirley is a former entertainment writer and has worked in the legal field for over 25 years