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DOJ request to jail Trump rejected by DC judge

President Donald J. Trump in Harlingen, Texas, Jan. 12, 2021, en route to Joint Base Andrews, Md. (Shealah Craighead/White House)
November 01, 2023

Judge Tanya Chutkan’s latest ruling in former President Donald Trump’s federal election interference case has added a new layer to the high-profile legal battle.

As a result of the judge’s latest ruling issued on Sunday, Chutkan has effectively blocked the Department of Justice from incarcerating Trump for violating his gag order, a decision that holds significant implications for the case.

Judge Chutkan, in her Sunday opinion, reinstated the gag order; however, she denied a request from federal prosecutors to integrate the order into Trump’s release conditions, stating, “Even assuming that request is procedurally proper, the court concludes that granting it is not necessary to effectively enforce the Order at this time.”

Chutkan’s decision to lift her temporary hold on the gag order came after she determined “the right to a fair trial is not [Trump’s] alone, but belongs also to the government and the public.” According to Newsweek, the gag order was initially paused amid challenges regarding its wording and while Trump sought an appeal.

Michael McAuliffe, a former federal prosecutor, told Newsweek that Chutkan was seemingly being “careful and deliberate” in her ruling due to the gravity and scrutiny of the case.

“She certainly knows her every action, including small decisions about the gag order, will be scrutinized and appealed,” McAuliffe stated. “As such, she is taking a decidedly incremental approach. A good judge knows to wait until issues are ripe for resolution.”

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Trump’s response to the reinstatement of the gag order was swift and critical of the judge.

Writing on Truth Social, he stated, “I have just learned that the very Biased, Trump Hating Judge in D.C., who should have RECUSED herself due to her blatant and open loathing of your favorite President, ME, has reimposed a GAG ORDER which will put me at a disadvantage against my prosecutorial and political opponents.”

Trump also expressed his intention to appeal the reinstatement of the gag order, questioning the fairness of the restrictions placed upon him.

Chutkan explained in her Sunday opinion that determining whether a statement Trump makes is in violation of the gag order will be a “fact-bound inquiry” that will require the court to consider each alleged violation’s “substance and context.” On the other hand, she ruled against Trump’s legal team’s argument that the language of the gag order was vague and confusing.

“The fact that it needs to do so with special care in close cases does not render the underlying Order unconstitutionally vague,” Chutkan stated. “Consequently, Defendant has failed to make a strong showing that he is likely to succeed on the merits of his appeal.”

In Sunday’s ruling, Chutkan also chose not to enforce the order regarding Trump’s recent comments about his former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, since the gag order was not in effect when Trump made the comments, according to Newsweek.

This news article was partially created with the assistance of artificial intelligence and edited and fact-checked by a human editor.