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Trump asks appeals court to suspend silence in federal election interference case

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Former President Donald Trump has asked an appeals court to lift the silence that bars him from making statements about potential witnesses or disparaging comments about prosecutors involved in the federal election interference case against him.

In a document filed Thursday, Trump’s lawyers argued that the order violated the rights of the former president “and more than 100 million Americans who listen to him,” and dismissed as “baseless” the concerns that an order of silence was necessary for the proper administration of justice.

“President Trump’s views and modes of expression resonate powerfully with tens of millions of Americans,” wrote D. John Sauer, one of three new appellate lawyers Trump added to his legal team last month. “The prosecution’s gag request is rife with hostility toward President Trump’s views and his relentless criticism of the government, including the prosecution itself.”

“The gag order embodies this unconstitutional hostility toward President Trump’s views. It should be immediately suspended,” his lawyers wrote.

Trump requested a ruling by Nov. 10 and requested a pause in the hush order until the appeals court rules. He also indicated that he could take the case to the Supreme Court if things do not go his way.

“If the Court denies this motion, President Trump will ask the Court to extend his administrative stay for seven days to allow him to seek relief from the Supreme Court of the United States,” his lawyers wrote.

The complaint comes days after U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, presiding over the case, ended a temporary stay of the order barring Trump and all parties from making or reissuing statements publicly targeting the special advisor Jack Smith or his team.

The pause was intended to allow Trump’s defense team to appeal Chutkan’s decision, which did not go so far as to impose restrictions on Trump’s statements criticizing the government or the Justice Department in general.

Federal prosecutors in Smith’s office had argued that silence was necessary to ensure the fairness of the case, accusing Trump of “publicly slandering witnesses and very intentionally commenting on the specific topics of their potential trial testimony,” in publications and interviews on social networks.

A spokesperson for Smith’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday evening.

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