Trump placed under limited gag order in federal election case in D.C.

Really? Talk about a paper tiger. When he ignores this order, Madam Judge, which he will (and probably already has by now), how exactly will you enforce it?

11 thoughts on “Trump placed under limited gag order in federal election case in D.C.

  1. I was just listening to the latest episode of the Advisory Opinions legal podcast in which they discussed this gag order. The hosts, Sarah Isgur and David French, (who are not fans of Trump) were troubled by the order. Most gag orders in criminal cases are intended to protect the defendant from public statements by the prosecutors that might taint the jury pool. But that is clearly not the intent of this order. Mike Pompeo, who is currently running against the former Cheeto and Chief, will be a witness in the case against Trump. This order would bar Trump from criticizing Pompeo about his testimony. But Pompeo is free to criticize Trump about his disgusting January 6th actions and inactions.

    As far as I am concerned, Trump should be stripped naked, covered in honey, and tied down on top of a fire ant hill. But Donald Trump should have the same rights as any other criminal defendant. If we forget this case is about Trump, would such an order be fair to another criminal defendant (who just so happened to be the favorite to win a major party presidential nomination)?

    I think that an order that forbids Trump from attacking court employees is certainly legal and appropriate. But under the 1st Amendment, shouldn’t the judge, prosecutor, and the government be fair game? The order issued by the judge seems to be designed to prevent Trump from engaging in witness intimidation. But witness intimidation is already a crime. Instead of the gag order, should the judge and the prosecutor wait until Trump crosses the line and then bring the hammer down on him?

    I am honestly not sure what the right answer is. The advantage of the gag order is that if Trump violates it, the judge can come down on him immediately without needing yet another indictment and trial. If I had to guess, if Trump violates the order, the judge will enforce it by moving up the trial date. I think that would be a very significant penalty because Trump clearly wants to delay any trials until after the 2024 election. If he (God forbid) wins, then he can try to pardon himself for all the federal charges. His lawyers would then argue that any state trials would have to wait until after he left office. I am not sure how the Supreme Court would decide on either issue.

    So, while I am unsure if the gag orders are proper, I am actually hoping he violates them and goes on trial early in 2024. If he is convicted, maybe the GOP will be able to run a decent candidate against Biden.

    1. You are making the assumption that Trump will not run if convicted. I assume he would still be nominated, would run, and might even win.

      As Trump himself has basically stated …

      … he could gun down the Pope, Paul McCartney and Tom Hanks on camera at home plate in Yankee Stadium, in front of 50,000 eyewitnesses, and his followers would still vote for him, and would probably believe that the prosecution was politically motivated.

      There is nothing to prevent him from becoming President, even in the most extreme case that he is incarcerated.

      The Constitution only requires the President to meet five qualifications:

      1. Be a natural-born citizen of the United States.
      2. Be at least 35 years old.
      3. Have been a resident of the United States for 14 years.
      4. Have not been previously disqualified by a Senate impeachment trial.
      5. Have not engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the USA, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. (14th Amendment)

      Presumably, a disqualification under requirement five, given the presumption of innocence, would require that the candidate have actually been convicted of insurrection or rebellion, but the 14th Amendment makes no such explicit clarification. This would really be a sticky wicket if Trump were to be found guilty in the January 6th case, with many arguing that such a conviction would prove that he was fomenting an insurrection, although the indictment does not explicitly charge him with that. The Supremes would have to rule on that one.


      I’m not sure this is a real discussion. My guess is that it just gives him one more thing to criticize the judge about, and he will continue all of the other criticisms and insults as well.

      I guess we’ll see whether Trump shows some respect for the order, and if not, then we’ll see whether the judge has the chutzpah to speed up the trial or take any other punitive action.

      Does shortening his preparation time give his lawyers a ground for appeal – by saying they had no time to prepare for such an epic case – or is that objection negated by the fact that the defendant himself caused the compressed time frame by disobeying the judge’s order?

      1. I am not assuming anything. I said if Trump was convicted, “MAYBE the GOP will be able to run a decent candidate against Biden.” That is my hope, not my assumption. If Trump were convicted, I am sure he would become the Eugene Debs of the 21st Century. But if that conviction was early enough, perhaps enough GOP primary voters might figure that a non-felon might have a better chance of beating Biden. But again, that is my hope, not my assumption, or even expectation.

        On the issue of whether Section 3 of the 14th Amendment will bar Trump from becoming president again, it’s not only unclear whether he would need to be convicted of an insurrection-related crime, but it’s not necessarily true that Section 3 even applies to Trump. That’s because there is no definition of “Officer of the United States” in the Constitution or even a federal statute. If the president is not an officer of the United States, then it wouldn’t matter if Trump had personally led the charge into the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, at least not for 14th Amendment purposes. To be clear, I am not saying the president isn’t an officer of the United States, just that it would be another issue for the Supreme Court to decide.

        1. I have read the arguments that “the President is not an officer,” and it may make sense if one parses the words as one chooses, but it ultimately hinges on the assumption that the writers of the 14th Amendment were really, REALLY stupid – that they intended to disqualify powerless freshmen congressmen from running for any federal or state office for the rest of their lives if they had participated in an insurrection – but if an influential President or former President led a failed insurrection, it was perfectly OK with them, and he was free to run again!

        2. Why do you think the Republican Party would want to run a “decent” candidate against Biden? They have shown no sign of wanting any such thing. I will point to their current inability to come up with a Speaker of the House as support for that. They may not know who they want, but it sure isn’t anyone “decent”. Someone like that would split the party, with the right-wing crazies refusing to vote for him/her. And the crazies now make up a BIG part of the GOP.

          1. Dunno what to think. No idea what’s gonna happen til it does. As Scoopy points out, Trump could be in jail & still be POTUS. Depending on the conviction, maybe pardon himself & even get away w/ it.

            Nothing plays out til the fat lady sings, in these days of apocalypse. (Meaning “revelation.”)

          2. I don’t think it makes much sense to ask what the Democratic or Republican Party “wants,” aside from things in their party platform or, of course, to beat the other party. Both parties are coalitions of people with different interests. Yes, it appears that the GOP is being run by maniacs, malcontents, and morons. But I think most registered Republicans are sane and reasonable. Well, given where Trump is in the polls right now, perhaps I should reduce that to a substantial minority is sane and reasonable. The problem is that the people with the most extreme views are going to be the ones most active. They are the ones who are going to be the most likely to vote in primaries and they are the ones most likely to make small-dollar donations. Now add the fact that most congresspeople are elected from safe districts where they are much more worried about primaries than general elections. There is no gerrymandering involved with Senate elections, but doesn’t it seem that the senators with the most extreme views come from solidly blue or solidly red states?

            Thinking about it, I am starting to wonder how many Republican politicians really do want a sane, reasonable, and decent candidate, but fear that if they aren’t sufficiently deferential to Trump they will lose their seats. My first choice would be to stake a honey-smeared Trump out on that hill of fire ants. But if that can’t happen, I’d like Trump to be quickly tried and convicted before he is executed by being smeared with honey and staked out on a hill of fire ants. My third choice is to vote for Joe Biden.

          3. When Mitt Romney’s tell-all comes out, I believe we will find that most Republican office-holders despise Trump, but as a rule they want to get re-elected, and they fear the immense power of Trump’s cult, so they kow-tow to Trump because he controls the masses in the primaries.

            Of course, when one of them dares to defy their messiah, Trump will often push in an unelectable crazy who can only win primaries to replace a sensible candidate that might win a general election. But when has Trump ever cared about anything but himself? If he had chosen a different strategy in dealing with Georgia’s senatorial races, the GOP might have taken control of both houses. But although he is allegedly the “head” of the party, he really doesn’t give a fig about it. It’s all about, and only about, King Donald.

          4. On the subject of safe congressional districts, I have an anecdote. In college, I took a political science class called “Organizing an Election Campaign,” taught by Rep. Eliot Engel’s campaign manager. He told us that he only cared about registered Democrats who voted in primary elections. At the time, Engel would routinely win in excess of 80% of the votes in the general election. The state legislature eventually removed a bunch of registered Democrats from his district so that they could make it harder for a Republican Rep to be reelected. After that, Engel would only get 60% in the general election. But my professor was definitely right to worry about the primaries. It may have taken more than 30 years, but Engel did eventually leave Congress because he lost a primary (to Jamaal Bowman in 2020).

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