Judge in Jan. 6 case agrees to issue limited protective order, warns Trump about rules

Judge in Jan. 6 case agrees to issue limited protective order, warns Trump about rules

US District Judge Tanya Chutkan largely sides with Trump's lawyers on protective order

By Iclal Turan

WASHINGTON (AA) – A US district judge agreed Friday to issue a limited protective order restricting the types of evidence ex-US President Donald Trump and his legal team can publicly disclose as he faces charges over trying to overturn the 2020 elections.

Tanya Chutkan, who is overseeing the case against the former president, ruled that a protective order in the case will apply only to sensitive materials that prosecutors share with the defense, according to multiple reports.

The federal judge said that although the former president has a right to free speech, that right is “not absolute," according to CNN.

“Mr. Trump, like every American, has a First Amendment right to free speech, but that right is not absolute. In a criminal case such as this one, the defendant’s free speech is subject to the rules," CNN quoted Chutkan as saying.

Chutkan closed the hearing with a warning against publicly commenting on the case, saying: "The more a party makes inflammatory statements about this case which could taint the jury pool or intimidate potential witnesses, the greater the urgency will be that we proceed to trial to ensure a jury pool from which we can select an impartial jury."

Trump, whose attorneys have indicated they will seek a drawn-out timeline for the trial, vowed Monday that he "will talk" about the cases against him, saying a protective order would violate his right to free speech.

The protective order proposed by prosecutors is about "taking away my First Amendment rights," Trump told an election rally. Prosecutors sought the order after Trump posted an apparently menacing message on his Truth Social website saying: "IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU!"

The former president was indicted last week by a federal grand jury in the Justice Department's election probe.

Trump has pleaded not guilty, and his lawyers were expected to argue that his comments were protected speech under the First Amendment to the Constitution, and that he legitimately believed his claims of election fraud.

The latest indictment marks the third criminal case against Trump since he left office following another federal case in the state of Florida related to his alleged unlawful retention of classified government documents and efforts to stymy investigators, as well as a case in New York related to hush money payments to an adult film star.

But the latest indictment marks the most significant case against the ex-president to date.

*Michael Hernandez contributed to this report

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