Journalist Brandi Buchman highlighted on Monday a portion of arguments before a federal appeals court in which one of the judges used past comments from Trump about ret. Gen. Mark Milley against the ex-president. Importantly, most everything at this stage comes with a caveat, because the judges hadn’t finalized their ultimate decision at the time.
The dispute was over whether — or how — to uphold a gag order originally imposed in Trump’s January 6 criminal case. The order, in general terms, blocks attacks from the ex-president on witnesses and others, though the restrictions were put on hold amid the continuing legal dispute. Trump’s past targeting has included suggesting the execution of Milley, who until his recent retirement was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a leading military position. Trump has characterized him as guilty of treasonous conduct, an argument that established authorities have not upheld.
Judge Bradley Garcia, serving on the appeals panel that heard arguments in court this Monday, used the jarring nature of Trump’s comments about Milley to illustrate the arguable clarity of some of the original restrictions laid down by Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is responsible for the original order against Trump.
“Here we have an order informed by the transcript and examples we are given and it does seem like the core of what is allowed and what is not is clear,” Garcia said, per Buchman’s recounting. “Your co-counsel says Trump should be able to say a joint chief of staff can’t be engaged [in a] certain type of conduct. And Chutkan ruled YES Trump CAN criticize Milley but what he CAN’T SAY is that Milley’s conduct should be PUNISHABLE BY DEATH.”
During the hearing, Trump attorney John Sauer consistently argued for looser standards around whether to apply any restrictions to Trump, challenging what he characterized time and again as untenable vagueness in the original order. The judges presented Sauer with a series of hypothetical scenarios, trying to find the nature of the standards for which he was arguing, and in sometimes non-committal terms, Sauer kept falling back on the First Amendment argument. Buchman’s thread is HERE.