Updated Nov 20, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Appeals court hears arguments over gag order in Trump's 2020 election case

 Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media after completing his testimony at his trial in New York State Supreme Court on November 06, 2023 in New York City.

Former President Trump speaks to the media after completing his testimony at his trial in New York State Supreme Court on Nov. 6. Photo: David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

A federal appeals court on Monday heard oral arguments over the gag order on former President Trump in his federal election interference case.

Driving the news: The three-judge panel signaled willingness to uphold parts of the gag order, but appeared to consider limiting its scope or amending it, the New York Times reports.

  • The panel of judges did not immediately issue a decision.

Zoom in: Prosecutors from special counsel Jack Smith's office and the former president's legal team have repeatedly clashed over the gag order, which has been paused as a panel of federal judges weighs whether it is merited.

  • Lawyers for the former president argued Monday that upholding the gag order could set a "terrible precedent" on "restrictions against core political speech," NBC News reports.
  • An attorney from the special counsel's office said that it has "been subject to multiple threats" and "intimidating communication" following Trump's posts on social media.
  • The hearing, originally scheduled for one hour, lasted more than two, per NBC.

State of play: U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan issued the narrow gag order in October, stating at the time that the former president's statements "pose sufficiently grave threats" to the "integrity" of the court proceedings.

  • Trump's legal team earlier this month urged an appeals court to lift the gag order in the case, arguing in a filing, "no court in American history has imposed a gag order on a criminal defendant who is actively campaigning for public office."
  • Smith last week defended the gag order saying that Trump has had a "long history" of inflammatory speech.

Between the lines: The panel of judges who weighed arguments Monday include Patricia Millett and Cornelia Pillard, who were appointed by former President Barack Obama, and Brad Garcia, a Biden appointee.

Zoom out: Trump is also fighting a gag order in his ongoing New York civil fraud trial.

  • The judge presiding over that case, Judge Arthur Engoron, imposed a gag order on the former president after he made a post on his Truth Social account attacking the judge's clerk.
  • That order is on temporary pause as it makes its way through an appeals court.

Go deeper: Trump's words turn violent as pressure on him builds

Editor's note: This story was updated with new information from the hearing.

Go deeper