“Judge Limits Trump’s Ability to Comment on Jan. 6 Evidence”


The federal judge overseeing former President Donald J. Trump’s prosecution on charges of seeking to overturn the 2020 election rejected his request on Friday to be able to speak broadly about evidence and witnesses — and warned Mr. Trump she would take necessary “measures” to keep him from intimidating witnesses or tainting potential jurors.

The caution from the judge, Tanya S. Chutkan, came during a 90-minute hearing in Federal District Court in Washington to discuss the scope of a protective order over the discovery evidence in Mr. Trump’s case, a typically routine step in criminal matters. Judge Chutkan said she planned to impose the order but agreed to a modification requested by the Trump legal team that it apply only to “sensitive” materials and not all evidence turned over to the defense.

She concluded the hearing with a blunt warning to Mr. Trump, and an unmistakable reference to a recent social media post in which he warned, “If you go after me, I’m coming after you!” — a statement his spokesman later said was aimed at political opponents and not at people involved in the case.

“I do want to issue a general word of caution — I intend to ensure the orderly administration of justice in this case as I would in any other case, and even arguably ambiguous statements by the parties or their counsel,” she said, could be considered an attempt to “intimidate witnesses or prejudice potential jurors,” triggering the court to take action….

“Mr. Trump, like any other American,” has a right to free speech under the First Amendment, she said.

But that right, she added, “is not absolute.”

The judge dismissed the argument made by John F. Lauro, Mr. Trump’s defense lawyer, who complained that the protective order would put “a chill” over his client’s ability to defend himself in the 2024 campaign.

“He is a criminal defendant,” Judge Chutkan said. “He is going to have restrictions like every other criminal defendant” — adding that she was not going to “allow him any greater or lesser latitude than any defendant in a criminal case.”

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