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Trump legal news brief: Trump fumes after Judge Tanya Chutkan reinstates gag order

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Former President lashes out at Judge Tanya Chutkan after she reimposes a gag order designed to prevent him from attacking prosecutors, court staff and potential witnesses in the federal election interference case against him. Meanwhile in Colorado, opening statements are underway in the case to try to keep Trump off the ballot in the state.

Jan. 6 election interference

Chutkan reinstates Trump gag order

Key players: Judge Tanya Chutkan, special counsel Jack Smith, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows

On Sunday, Chutkan sided with arguments made by lawyers on Smith’s team, reinstating a limited gag order on Trump that is meant to prevent him from making disparaging comments about prosecutors, court staff and potential witnesses in the case against him, the Associated Press reported.

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  • On Oct. 20, the judge had temporarily paused an initial gag order on Trump to allow his lawyers to offer arguments as to why it was unwarranted, but last week prosecutors asked her to reinstate it.

  • Chutkan cited a message Trump posted on social media on Oct. 24 about Meadows’s alleged immunity deal with prosecutors that Smith’s team had flagged as an attempt at witness intimidation.

  • “This statement would almost certainly violate the Order under any reasonable definition of ‘targeting,’” Chutkan wrote in her ruling.

  • Upon learning of the judge’s decision, Trump went on the attack, saying the gag order by a “very Biased, Trump Hating Judge in D.C.” would “put me at a disadvantage against my prosecutorial and political opponents.”

Why it matters: Trump now faces two limited gag orders in two separate legal cases against him. So far, he has shown little inclination to abide by them. In the New York financial fraud case, he has already paid $15,000 in fines as a result of gag order violations.

Opening statements begin in trial to decide whether to ban Trump from Colorado ballot

Key players: Trump lawyer Scott Gessler, plaintiffs’ attorney Eric Olson, Colorado District Court Judge Sarah Wallace

  • Opening statements got underway Monday in the case brought by six Colorado voters and the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington that seeks to bar Trump’s name from appearing on ballots in the state because of his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, Reuters reported.

  • Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution disqualifies any person who “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the United States from holding office. The plaintiffs say Trump’s efforts to halt the certification of his loss to Joe Biden, which they argue resulted in the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, fall squarely into that category.

  • “Trump incited a violent mob to attack our Capitol, to stop the peaceful transition of power,” Olson said at the start of the trial.

  • “People should be able to run for office and shouldn’t be punished for their speech,” Gessler countered in his own opening statement.

  • The trial is expected to last one week and will be decided by Wallace.

Why it matters: Voters in several other states are pursuing legal challenges to Trump’s 2024 presidential bid on similar grounds. Ultimately, these cases are viewed as long shots but could end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

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