Former President Donald Trump says he is “willing to go to jail” if that’s what it takes for America “to become a democracy again.”
Trump made the remarks during a speech at 2024 campaign rally in Iowa after Judge Tanya Chutkan issued a partial gag order limiting what he can say publicly about his court case.
“And they’re getting beaten very badly by me in the polls. They think the only way they can catch me is to stop me from speaking. They want to take away my voice,” Trump told onlookers, before referencing Chutkan’s order, which he called “unconstitutional.”
Following a two-hour hearing in Washington D.C., Chutkan barred the former head of state from making or posting public statements targeting social counsel Jack Smith, his staff, or court staff and personnel.
“Mr. Trump may still vigorously seek public support as a presidential candidate, debate policies and people related to that candidacy, criticize the current administration and assert his belief that this prosecution is politically motivated,” Judge Chutkan said. “But those critical First Amendment freedoms do not allow him to launch a pre-trial smear campaign against participating government staff, their families and foreseeable witnesses.”
Trump said, “This is weaponry all being done because Joe Biden is losing the election and losing very, very badly to all of us in the polls. He’s losing badly.”
The former president, who has long maintained that the criminal cases against him are politically motivated, added, “But what they don’t understand is that I am willing to go to jail if that’s what it takes for our country to win and become a democracy again.”
All of the criminal cases brought against him were filed after he announced he would be seeking a second term in the White House.
Trump has issued a plea of not guilty to four charges in Smith’s investigation into the following activities leading up to the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021: conspiracy to defraud the United States; conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding; obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding; and conspiracy against rights.
The indictment alleges that Trump knew he lost the election but fought to retain power anyway.
Prosecutors argue that the gag order against Trump is needed to prevent witness intimidation by his followers against several individuals who could potentially testify against him, namely former Vice President Mike Pence and former U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr.
“The defendant’s relentless public posts marshaling anger and mistrust in the justice system, the Court, and prosecutors have already influenced the public,” CNN said, referring to statements prosecutors wrote in a filing last month. “For instance, on August 5, 2023, an individual was arrested because she called the Court’s chambers and made racist death threats to the Court that were tied to the Court’s role in presiding over the defendant’s case.”
The outlet also quoted prosecutor Molly Gaston who said during the hearing, “We have no interest in stopping the defendant from running for office or defending his reputation, nor does our proposed order do that.”
Gaston added, “This is about the participants, the witnesses, in this trial. It is limited to those individuals, and it is limited to statements that are intended to influence the venue or potential jurors.”