Aziz Huq Writes About the Gag Orders on Former Pres. Trump

Opinion | How the Trump Gag Orders Could Backfire

Momentum is building in the criminal cases against Donald Trump for trying to hijack the 2020 presidential election. But the federal court tasked with examining those allegations fully and fairly now risks being ensnared in a futile, even counterproductive, sideshow about Trump’s free speech rights.

At issue are the so-called “gag orders” imposed by judges in New York and Washington, D.C. While these may be perfectly constitutional and well-deserved, they may end up doing more harm than good — for both legal and political reasons.

The two criminal trials focused on election subversion first got a boost last week when Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro reached plea deals in the Fulton County, Georgia, case. Then a third Trump team lawyer, Jenna Ellis, pleaded guilty Tuesday. The light sentences they received have left some “gobsmacked” for their leniency, but they were likely well motivated: A rational prosecutor offers such deep discounts only when she believes a person can supply substantial useful evidence against co-defendants. Here, Powell, Chesebro and Ellis likely have evidence bearing directly on Trump’s intentions — a key legal question — as well as material that may push other defendants to take pleas, and turn against Trump too.

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