Can you imagine what it must be like trying to defend Donald Trump? Think “mission impossible.” His attorneys continue trying to combat gag orders, using the First Amendment as a prop, but then, Trump goes out and opens his big, stupid mouth again, negating everything the attorneys just said. This past weekend, Trump spoke to Club 47, an organization created to help with Trump’s reelection. He stood in front of the members, spilling national secrets, and saying: “I can do whatever I want.” He may think that, but he is inherently wrong. He’s finding that out.
In the election interference case, Special Counsel Jack Smith asked for a very limited gag order for a completely different reason. In that case, Trump doesn’t discuss his crimes. Instead, he’s polluting the jury pool with his attacks on the prosecutors, Judge Tanya Chutkan, and D.C. While hearing arguments Monday, Judge Chutkan made Trump’s attorneys look: (a) uninformed, (b) willing to say anything, or (c) just plain dumb. It is honestly hard to tell why Trump denigrates Chutkan, as she seems very fair and is looking to the law for guidance.
Chutkan has already imposed limits on Trump, and she said would be careful not to intrude on his right to free speech. When she got to the defense is when the train began going off the rails. Trump’s lawyer, John Lauro, argued that Trump can talk about the prosecutions on the campaign trail and that: “Prosecutors want to stop Trump from speaking out about the issues of the day.” Frankly, there are many more issues of the day to discuss than Trump’s prosecutions, and Chutkan reminded them that Trump is a criminal defendant and ” . . . does not have the right to say and do as he pleases.” She then asked Lauro for his opinion on penalties for Trump if she put the gag order in place, and Lauro responded penalties aren’t necessary because what’s in place is working. Obviously, they are not.
Lauro then tried to argue that a gag order would give President Biden an “unfair advantage,” to which she responded: “Joe Biden isn’t a party to this case, and he’s not under pretrial conditions.” Does Trump’s attorney not get that? President Biden can absolutely talk about Trump’s criminal indictments. Judge Chutkan made it clear, however, that Trump’s disparaging remarks about Jack Smith, his family, and her staff will not be tolerated, and she also felt that he was disparaging potential witnesses, such as Bill Barr and Mike Pence, which was not acceptable. Lauro jumped on that to claim that’s why the trial should be postponed until after the election. Nice try. Judge Chutkan set the trial for March.
In the end, Judge Chutkamn ruled against the prosecution with respect to comments about D.C. and President Biden, but he can no longer refer to Jack Smith as “a thug,” and he cannot make any disparaging comments about Smith’s family, the court, court personnel, and potential witnesses. If he does, there will be sanctions, which could include revocation of his pretrial release conditions.
Shirley is a former entertainment writer and has worked in the legal field for over 25 years