Washington – The federal appeals court in Washington hears on Monday the arguments of the defense of the ex-president and the prosecution concerning the extrajudicial statements made by Donald Trump as part of his trial relating to alleged illicit maneuvers during the 2020 election. Justice notably wants to prevent the Republican candidate for the 2024 presidential election from making ad hominem attacks in public.
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Donald Trump soon to be silenced? The federal appeals court in Washington hears on Monday, November 20, the arguments of the defense of the ex-president and the prosecution within the framework of the obligation of silence imposed on the billionaire last month concerning his trial for alleged fraud during of the 2020 presidential election.
In October, Judge Tanya Chutkan barred the parties from any public comments “targeting” prosecutors, court staff and witnesses in the case. On the other hand, she recognized the favorite of the Republican primaries the right to continue to rage against his Democratic successor Joe Biden, systematically nicknamed “scoundrel”, or to accuse the current administration of exploiting justice for eliminated from the race for the White House in 2024.
A decision based on an “ambiguous” term, according to the defense
The Federal Court of Appeal in Washington, seized by Donald Trump, suspended these restrictions while it ruled on the merits and heard the arguments of the defense and the prosecution on Monday.
With this decision, Judge Chutkan set herself up as a “barrier between the leading presidential candidate and every American across the country,” deplore Donald Trump’s lawyers in their written arguments. They criticize in particular the “vague” nature of the terms used, in particular the word “aim”.
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Even the influential civil rights organization ACLU, little suspected of sympathy for the ex-president against whom it railed throughout his mandate, denounced a decision which “rests entirely on the meaning of the word ‘target’ “, considering it “ambiguous”.
To clarify the scope of these restrictions, the judge cited a comment in which the ex-president considered on his Truth Social network the possibility that his last chief of staff, Mark Meadows, would testify against him in exchange for an offer of immunity by special prosecutor Jack Smith, who is investigating this case.
Behavior worthy of “weak and cowardly”, according to Donald Trump. “I don’t think Mark Meadows is one of them, but who knows?” he concluded. This type of attack on a potential witness would certainly fall under the ban, the judge explained.
Attacks likely to cause harassment or threats
The prosecutors, who are requesting the restoration of these limits, also consider the wording clear enough for the defendant to know what to expect.
The objectionable comments “consist essentially of ad hominem attacks using inflammatory language likely to arouse feelings of anger or violence in the listener,” they write in their argument.
They evoke “a pattern, dating back several years, in which people publicly targeted by the defendant therefore find themselves subjected to harassment, threats and intimidation”.
Donald Trump’s lawyers brush aside these assertions. They also criticize the judge for having ruled out “the most obvious alternative: the postponement of the trial”, scheduled from March 4, 2024, after the presidential election of November 2024, as they have been demanding from the start.
“Throughout the proceedings, the defendant clearly showed that he wanted at all costs to delay the trial until 2025 [voire au-delà]”, recall the prosecutors, urging the judges not to “reward his most odious extrajudicial statements” by granting him satisfaction on this point.