Appeals court rejects Donald Trump request to lift gag order in election-interference case

Former President Donald Trump celebrates his win in the 2024 Iowa Caucus at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines earlier this month. Photo by Tannen Maury/UPI

Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Former President Donald Trump must appeal to the Supreme Court if he wants a gag order lifted in his Washington, D.C., trial over alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.

An 11-member Washington, D.C., Circuit Court of Appeals panel on Tuesday denied Trump's request to overturn a Dec. 8 ruling by a three-member panel at the same court that upheld a limited gag order against him.

The panel heard 20 minutes of arguments for and against lifting the gag order.

Trump's only remaining hope to remove the gag order is to appeal to the Supreme Court.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan issued the gag order in October in response to a request by federal prosecutors who accuse Trump of election interference for organizing the Jan 6, 2021, protest at the Capitol.

Prosecutors told Chutkan that Trump made comments that endangered witnesses, court staff and prosecutors while undermining the court's integrity.

Chutkan briefly lifted the gag order pending an appeal by Trump, but some of his subsequent social media posts caused her to reinstate it in late October.

Trump said the gag order violates his First Amendment right to free speech.

Trump is accused of initiating a scheme to overturn the 2020 election results by using fake electors and the Department of Justice to conduct a fake investigation of the election.

Special Prosecutor Jack Smith also accuses the former president of falsely claiming the election was stolen and trying to get then-Vice President Mike Pence to alter the election results so Trump could stay in office despite Joe Biden getting more votes.

Trump says the case against him is politically motivated and he denied any criminal activity or wrongdoing in the matter.