Trump Tries To Turn ‘Deep State’ Gag Order Into Fundraising Opportunity

Former US President Donald Trump attends the third day of his civil fraud trial in New York on October 4, 2023. (Photo by SPENCER PLATT/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
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Former President Trump is trying to turn the fact he’s facing a potential gag order for incendiary statements targeting people involved in his Jan. 6 criminal trial into a money-making opportunity for his re-election campaign. 

Trump sent a fundraising email to supporters on Wednesday describing Special Counsel Jack Smith’s request for a limited gag order as an effort by “Deep State Democrats” to censor him “to satisfy these tyrants’ thirst for power.” The message urged Trump’s supporters to monetize their outrage. 

“Please make a contribution to show that you will NEVER SURRENDER our country to tyranny as the Deep State thugs try to JAIL me for life as an innocent man – for 1,500% impact,” Trump wrote. 

Trump, who is currently under indictment in four different jurisdictions, has repeatedly lashed out and made menacing statements directed at witnesses, prosecutors, judges, and others involved in the cases. Along with the criminal prosecutions, Trump is facing a civil trial in New York brought by the state’s attorney general as a result of allegedly fraudulent practices at the former president’s real estate business. The civil trial began in Manhattan on Monday. For the first two days of the case, Trump used public appearances, his social media platform Truth Social, and his presidential campaign press list to launch a series of wild and false attacks on the prosecutor, judge, and a clerk for the court. Trump’s outbursts led the judge to impose a narrow gag order on Tuesday barring the former president and others in the case “from posting emailing or speaking publicly about any of my staff.” 

The fundraising email from Trump’s campaign referred to the civil trial as a “sham,” but did not note the gag order in that case. Instead, Trump focused on the case in Washington D.C. federal court related to his efforts to stay in power after losing the 2020 election, which culminated in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Last month, prosecutors sought a “narrowly tailored” limited gag order in that trial and cited Trump’s “disparaging and inflammatory public posts on Truth Social on a near-daily basis regarding the citizens of the District of Columbia, the court, prosecutors and prospective witnesses.” In their request, the prosecutors noted Trump’s comments have coincided with threats from his supporters to the special counsel and other targets of his wrath, including the judge herself. 

“The government seeks a narrow, well-defined restriction that is targeted at extrajudicial statements that present a serious and substantial danger of materially prejudicing this case,” prosecutors wrote.

Prosecutors re-iterated the request for a limited gag order on Sept. 29 after Trump continued to attack potential witnesses in the case. They highlighted comments Trump made suggesting Mark Milley, the former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, should be executed for treason. Milley, who was a fourstar general and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, retired last month and subsequently made a series of critical comments about Trump in interviews. In addition to having served as the nation’s top military officer, Milley was a witness cited in the special counsel’s Jan. 6 indictment. 

In the post highlighted by prosecutors, Trump described Milley as a “woke train wreck” and accused the retired general of improperly communicating with China. 

“This is an act so egregious that, in times gone by, the punishment would have been DEATH!” Trump wrote. 

Milley, who has defended his communications with China and consistently warned about the dangers posed by Beijing, has said he’s taken “appropriate measures” to secure his family as a result of Trump’s threats. The trials against Trump have featured increased security measures amid the former president’s threats and associated reactions from his supporters. 

The judge in the Jan. 6 case, Tanya Chutkan is set to weigh in on the gag order request during a hearing on Oct. 16. Trump’s attorneys have responded by framing the call for sanctions as censorship. When prosecutors reiterated the request, one of them, Molly Gaston, noted,“No other criminal defendant would be permitted to issue public statements insinuating that a known witness in his case should be executed.”

“He demands special treatment, asserting that because he is a political candidate, he should have free rein to publicly intimidate witnesses and malign the court, citizens of this district, and prosecutors,” Gaston wrote. “But in this case, Donald J. Trump is a criminal defendant like any other.”

Trump has repeatedly used his myriad legal troubles as a fundraising opportunity for his political committees, which are paying some of his legal bills. In his latest fundraising email about the possible gag order, Trump made clear he absolutely does not see himself as a standard criminal defendant. Instead, he once again framed the prosecution as an effort to target him politically. 

“Crooked Joe’s weaponized DOJ may very well get away with stripping Biden’s leading opponent (ME) of his First Amendment right to freedom of speech in the 2024 presidential election. We are watching the ruling regime commit Election Interference in BROAD DAYLIGHT,” Trump wrote.
The message ignored the limited nature of the gag order request and the fact it would have to be granted by a judge rather than Justice Department prosecutors. 
After outlining his conspiratorial vision of the trial, Trump presented a list of contributors and suggested donating to his campaign is the way to fight back. 
“No matter the outcome of the October 16th Gag Order Hearing, the Deep State can NEVER GAG the American people!” he wrote.  
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