In a significant blow to former President Donald Trump, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has denied his request for a full court review of the appeal regarding his gag order. This decision paves the way for a potential appeal to the Supreme Court.
Trump sought a reevaluation of his appeal by the entire D.C. Circuit related to a gag order implemented by District Judge Tanya Chutkan. Judge Chutkan is presiding over Trump’s case concerning election interference in Washington, D.C. Nevertheless, his request was rejected by the court in a concise order issued on Tuesday.
In December 2023, a three-judge appeals court panel upheld the gag order with minor adjustments. The court removed the part of the order that prohibited Trump from speaking about special counsel Jack Smith. Additionally, they narrowed the restriction on his speech about witnesses, specifying that it only applied to statements concerning their potential involvement in the investigation or the criminal proceedings.
Judge Patricia Millett, appointed by former President Barack Obama, expressed concerns about Trump’s speech pattern and immediate real-world consequences. She stated that this posed a significant and imminent threat to the functioning of the criminal trial process in the case.
Despite this setback, Trump still has the option to appeal Judge Chutkan’s gag order to the Supreme Court if he chooses to do so.
Judge Chutkan initially imposed the gag order in October, and the D.C. Circuit’s decision has further limited Trump’s ability to make public statements. The order now prohibits him from targeting counsel in the case (excluding the Special Counsel), counsel’s staff, and members of the court’s staff or the family members of any counsel or staff member. These restrictions apply if the statements are made to materially interfere with the work of counsel or staff in the criminal case or if Trump is aware that such interference is highly likely to occur.
Currently, Trump’s 2020 election case remains on hold while the appeal regarding his claim of presidential immunity is pending. Judge Chutkan declined to dismiss the case based on Trump’s argument for presidential immunity on December 1.
The denial of Trump’s request for a full court review of the gag order appeal marks another legal setback for the former president. As the legal battles continue, the Supreme Court remains an option for Trump to seek further recourse in this ongoing saga.