A federal appeals court on Friday temporarily blocked a limited spoliation order against Donald Trump in the criminal case of former presidential campaign sabotage in Washington, D.C., allowing potential witnesses in the case to speak freely again.
In a brief order, a three-judge panel of the U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals said it would stay the harsh order issued by District Judge Tanya Sutgan, giving Trump more time to consider a request to stay the order while his appeal is proposed. Court.
The appeals justices — Barack Obama appointees Patricia Millett and Cornelia Billard and Joe Biden appointee Brad Garcia — said they would fast-track Trump’s appeal of the gag order and hear arguments on the matter on Nov. 20.
Since his arrest, Trump has been trying to suspend further restrictions on his ability to speak publicly. Justice Department lawyers have so far successfully argued that Trump’s speech should be curtailed because of how often he posts on social media about potential witnesses in his case, which could lead to harassment or affect their credibility with his jury.
Sutgen ruled against Trump’s lawyers, saying the former president was legal as a criminal defendant, even as he challenged it on constitutional grounds in an appeals court.
After Sutgan temporarily disabled the gag order, Trump quickly resumed posting threatening posts about lawyers and potential witnesses on social media, lawyers from Special Counsel Jack Smith’s office told the judge as they urged the restrictions to be reinstated.
In reinstating the order earlier this week, Sutgen noted that a post targeting Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, “almost certainly” would have violated it if it hadn’t been suspended.
Now, the Court of Appeal will consider whether the former president can be granted relief in the matter.
“The prosecution’s request for a gag order is hostile to President Trump’s views and his relentless criticism of the government—including the case,” Trump’s lawyers told the appeals court on Thursday. “The gag order represents an unconstitutional antagonism to President Trump’s vision. It must be stopped immediately.
The order limits Trump’s ability to publicly target court personnel, potential witnesses or the special counsel and his staff. The order does not impose restrictions on certain comments about Washington, D.C., — where the arbitration is held — or disparaging comments about the judiciary, both of which the government sought.
This story has been updated with additional details.