Trump legal team and prosecutors face off in court over gag order in election interference case – live | US politics

Key events

Judges are pressing Trump’s team on hypothetical questions to understand how Trump’s defense team interprets the release condition and to test the legal rule that Trump’s lawyers want adopted with regards to the gag order.

From CBS News corespondent Scott MacFarlane:

Judge asks if Trump posted messages to witnesses on social media .. suggesting they not cooperate with prosecutors…. “Does that communication violate release conditions?”

Sauer: If it’s a *direct* message to witness.. it might violate release conditions

— Scott MacFarlane (@MacFarlaneNews) November 20, 2023

Judge: What about if he makes a statement to a witness (discouraging cooperation) during a campaign stump speech?

Sauer: “Context is absolutely critical” “What if that’s a fair response to something the *witness* has said?”

— Scott MacFarlane (@MacFarlaneNews) November 20, 2023

The format of the gag order hearing is different from a standard criminal case.

As Trump’s defense team makes their arguments, judges on the panel interrupt and frequently ask questions.

A question that continues to arise is if there can be limitations on speech to protect the administration of justice, outside of speech that is already illegal.

From CBS News corespondent Scott MacFarlane:

Judges are pressing Sauer hard. One asks: “When a participant in trial is engaged in political speech… there can be no limitation imposed to protect the administration of justice?”

— Scott MacFarlane (@MacFarlaneNews) November 20, 2023

Judges appear to be hitting hard (and frequently) on a baseline question:

To protect the administration of justice, is there any limitation on speech, beyond prohibitions on already-illegal types of speech?

— Scott MacFarlane (@MacFarlaneNews) November 20, 2023

The hearing on Trump’s gag order has began.

Trump’s attorney John Sauro is arguing first.

A main argument from Trump’s defense team is that there is “no evidence” that Trump has made social media posts about “nonpublic” witnesses.

The three judges that make up the panel are Judges Patricia Millett, Cornelia Pillard, and Brad Garcia, who were all appointed by Democratic presidents.

Listen to a live audio of the hearing here.

The Guardian’s Hugo Lowell is currently in Washington DC for the court hearing.

Jack Smith is currently in the courtroom for oral arguments at the DC Circuit, with the hearing set to begin at 9.30 am.

He’s sitting in the front row of pews.

The latest clash over the gag order comes after Trump’s supporters have threatened officials associated with the election interference case and other cases.

A woman in Texas was charged after making threats against Judge Tanya Chutkan, who mandated the limited gag order against Trump, NPR reported.

A New York judge presiding over a civil case involving Trump has also received hundreds of threats.

Trump is under a separate gag order for that case after making a social media post on his Truth Social account attacking the judge’s clerk, Axios reported.

Trump legal team and prosecutors to face off in court over gag order in election case

Good morning.

Attorneys representing former president Donald Trump and federal prosecutors will face off on Monday in federal court about the perimeters of a gag order placed on Trump, which prevents him from attacking witnesses, prosecutors, or others associated with the election interference case.

Both sides will present their argument before a US federal appeals court on Monday at 9.30 am ET, with the hearing expected to last 1 hour.

Prosecutors with the Justice department have said that the gag order is critical for a fair trial, as Trump’s public comments on the trial have led to harassment or witness intimidation from his supporters.

Meanwhile, Trump’s attorneys believe that the gag order impedes on his “core political speech”, especially with Trump being the Republican frontrunner for the 2024 presidential election.

A limited gag order was placed on Trump last month, prohibiting him from “from making any public statements, or directing others to make any public statements” about witnesses, their testimony, the prosecution and their staff, as well as the court’s staff, NBC News reported.

Here’s what else is happening today:


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