Under the terms of Trump’s bond in Fulton County, he was ordered to “perform no act to intimidate any person known to him or her to be a codefendant or witness in this case” and “make no direct or indirect threat of any nature against any witness” or victim. The agreement announced Monday said the restrictions “include, but are not limited to, posts on social media or reposts of posts made by another individual on social media.”
Legal experts say placing a tight leash on Trump’s pretrial statements could play into his hands by sparking a legal fight over free speech that he has already signaled he wants.
In Washington, Chutkan “no doubt wants to treat Donald Trump like any other defendant, but she must treat him like every other defendant who is also running for president, an unprecedented situation,” said Barbara McQuade, a University of Michigan law professor and former U.S. attorney.
“Any judge would be very reluctant to jail a candidate for president, not only to protect the candidate’s First Amendment rights, but to permit voters access to the defendant’s statements as they decide how to cast their ballots,” McQuade said. “It will take an awful lot for Judge Chutkan to jail Trump, and you can bet he will push the line as far as he can. It is a win-win situation for him. If he is not gagged and jailed, he can disparage prosecutors and witnesses with impunity. If he is jailed, he can portray himself as a victim of persecution.”