AP.- A lawyer from donald trump urged a federal appeals court on Monday to remove a gag order against the former president in a major court case, and a prosecutor argued that the restriction is necessary to prevent intimidations and threats against participants in the case, in which the former president is accused of trying to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Appeals court judges asked skeptical and sometimes aggressive questions of lawyers for both sides as they debated the possible reimposition of the order which prohibits Trump from making inflammatory comments against prosecutors, potential witnesses and court staff.
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The justices asked several hypothetical questions about circumstances that might arise in the coming months, trying to weigh Trump’s right to free speech and the need to protect the trial process.
“There is a balance that must be found here, and it is a very difficult balance in this context (…) But we have to use a scalpel and not fall into, let’s say, meddling in the political sphere“Right?” Judge Patricia Millett told Cecil VanDevender, a prosecuting attorney for special prosecutor Jack Smith.
VanDevender responded that he agrees, but believes the gag order does strike the desired balance.
The court did not issue a ruling, but the outcome of the arguments presented this Monday will set the parameters for what Trump can say or not say, both as a defendant in a criminal trial and the main contender for the presidency. republican presidential candidacy for the 2024 elections.
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The stakes are high given the volume and intensity of public comments Trump has made about the case and the enormous political platform he has. As a sign of his importance, the special prosecutor himself Smith attended the hearingsitting in the front row.
In nearly two and a half hours of arguments, the justices expressed clear understanding that Trump’s rhetoric could inspire threats.
Judge Brad Garcia pressed Trump’s lawyer, John Sauerto explain why the court should not take precautionary measures.
“This is likely to escalate as well as the threats, so why doesn’t the court have the right to take proactive measures instead of waiting for more and more threats to come, in order to protect the integrity of the trial?” he asked..
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