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Network contributor wonders why Trump is 'allowed' to speak freely about his prosecutions

President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks on the America First Healthcare Plan Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020, at the Duke Energy Hangar in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Official White House photo by Shealah Craighead)


President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks on the America First Healthcare Plan Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020, at the Duke Energy Hangar in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Official White House photo by Shealah Craighead)

By Jason Cohen
Daily Caller News Foundation

British MSNBC contributor Katty Kay on Monday pondered why former President Donald Trump has the right to speak openly about the Democrat-led prosecutions he has faced.

Trump has consistently spoken out about the cases against him, characterizing them as “election interference” and a “sham.” Kay on “Morning Joe” questioned MSNBC legal analyst Barbara McQuade about why Trump is able to make these remarks and what dangers this ability may pose.


“Somebody actually just last week from the U.K. was asking me, ‘how is it that Donald Trump can stand outside the courtroom and say the system was rigged, this was a sham trial, it was a corrupt judge?’ … What he was suggesting is that in the U.K., you wouldn’t be allowed to say that because it’s a danger, there … to the system itself, that it is a form of incitement to violence, but I guess here it’s a free speech issue. We’ve also seen the former president say that there was this huge raid in Mar-a-Lago and that they came in kind of guns blazing as it were, suggesting that, again, that’s the way that they went into Mar-a-Lago was exactly as they should have gone into Mar-a-Lago. The FBI. What is the danger of when he says things like that? And why is he allowed to say things like that?” Kay asked.

Trump is still under a gag order, imposed by Judge Juan Merchan in his Manhattan trial in the case brought by Democratic District Attorney Alvin Bragg where a jury found him guilty. The order prevents the former president from making public statements about witnesses, prosecutors other than the district attorney, court staff and jurors, as well as family members of the staff, district attorney or judge.

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“Well first, let’s talk about why he’s allowed to say things like that. I believe he is someone, like others, who actually exploits our First Amendment to free speech,” McQuade said. “He knows where the lines are. He goes right up to them. Sometimes he tiptoes over them. But mostly, he includes a few throwaway lines to try to keep within the boundaries. Here in the United States, we have a cherished First Amendment right to free speech, even ugly speech, even sometimes dangerous speech. And the Supreme Court has placed the bar on what becomes criminal or prohibited speech really quite high,” McQuade answered.

“The court … held that speech may only be prohibited in that dangerous situation where there is an intent to cause imminent lawless action and a likelihood of causing that result,” McQuade added. “Now, I think there’s an argument that that bar was crossed on January 6th. But when Donald Trump says these things at the courthouse, it may be planting ideas in people’s minds, but it’s probably not rising to that level of imminent lawless action. But what does it do? What is the outcome of that? It does have an effect, as you mentioned, especially, let’s take that example of Mar-a-Lago. Donald Trump falsely claimed not only that the FBI came in with guns blazing but they planted false evidence in his home … When these things are said, it may be that many people roll their eyes, some people may believe it, but there are people out there who will take that as a call to action. And we know that based on past experiences. So it is incredibly reckless simply to utter these phrases.”

An MSNBC panel in May burst into laughter about Trump’s inability to conduct a typical reelection campaign because of the gag order hindering his speech, linking the order to the former president’s upcoming debate with President Joe Biden where microphones will be shut off during the other candidate’s speaking time.

“Donald Trump does have some experience with having his mic cut off. Which is he’s been sitting in court and wanting very badly to respond to everything with his mic cut off,” NBC News senior national politics reporter Jonathan Allen said, prompting laughter from his fellow panelists. “So it’ll be interesting to see if he’s able to do that in a debate. But he has definitely had his mouth shut over the course of the last several weeks.”

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