During a discussion recently held on MSNBC with host Lawrence O’Donnell and others, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) — a member in this Congress of the House Judiciary Committee — expressed support for the prospect of what has been described as a limited gag order targeting former President Donald Trump. The context is the federal criminal case brought against Trump by Special Counsel Jack Smith alleging election interference — something to which Trump has basically admitted but that Smith specifically alleges is criminal.
Federal Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is currently handling proceedings in this matter, has not yet decided on the possibility of restricting Trump’s public commentary around the case, which contrary to Trump’s own complaints about the possibility, would not completely block him from speaking about it. The specific concern is potentially threatening language targeted towards individuals connected to the proceedings. What would be restricted are “(a) statements regarding the identity, testimony, or credibility of prospective witnesses; and (b) statements about any party, witness, attorney, court personnel, or potential jurors that are disparaging and inflammatory, or intimidating,” per the feds’ request.
“There is a strain of violence within the MAGA wing of the Republican Party that is very threatening. It has caused violence. It could cause additional violence. And we have to have jurors who are not intimidated by that, and you’ve got the former president of the United States saying very violent things in his posts, violent rhetoric, and I think it’s appropriate for a judge to say, ‘You just can’t say certain things because you’re a defendant in a criminal trial,'” Lieu said while on MSNBC.
January 6 is perhaps the most obvious example of commentary from Trump later connecting to deadly violence, but the examples continue. In related cases, there have also been serious threats to the safety and lives of individuals opposite Trump politically, even by random coincidence. The difficulties faced by former Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss after they were baselessly accused of involvement in election fraud have been well documented.