WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – A federal judge imposed a gag order on former President Donald Trump Monday in the case that accuses him of illegally trying to overturn the 2020 election.
The judge said Trump cannot mount a “smear campaign” against her staff, prosecutors and potential witnesses.
“I’m not supposed to be talking about things that bad people do,” Trump said during a campaign rally in Iowa Monday after the judge issued the order.
Prosecutors argue Trump’s comments could undermine public confidence in the court system, but his supporters defended him.
“Free speech has been severely hurt today,” said U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-GA, who was inside the courtroom.
Greene said this is all about the 2024 presidential election, where Trump remains the GOP frontrunner.
“This is meant to hurt him politically,” she said. “This is meant to sway public opinion.”
But law experts said even if Trump abides by the order, his supporters, from members of Congress like Greene to talk show hosts and PACs, can still repeat his message.
“It’s so easy to get around it,” said Professor John Banzhaf with George Washington University.
Banzhaf said Trump could even tell supporters to make the same claims on his behalf.
“People might believe them even more,” he said. “That’s the irony of it.”
However, Banzhaf said the gag order is still important to strike a balance between Trump’s First Amendment rights and the rights of witnesses in a free and fair trial.
“Trump is a very credible candidate and to go further, a large part of his plea to be elected is the whole theory that he is being picked on by a group of people, including Biden,” Banzhaf said.
Trump told supporters he plans to quickly appeal the gag order, which could make it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.