US appeals court rebuffs Trump request to reconsider gag order in 2020 election case

FILE PHOTO: Former U.S. President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a rally in advance of the New Hampshire primary election in Laconia

By Andrew Goudsward

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A federal appeals court on Tuesday declined to reconsider its decision to largely uphold a judge’s order limiting former President Donald Trump’s statements about people involved in the federal case accusing him of plotting to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Trump’s lawyers asked for a three-judge panel to reconsider its December ruling, or for the full appeals court to take up the issue. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied both requests.

Trump can appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, his last remaining hope of overturning limits on his public statements about potential witnesses, prosecutors and court staff involved in the case.

Trump has argued that the restrictions violate his free speech rights as he moves closer to clinching the Republican presidential nomination.

The D.C. Circuit court found that some of Trump’s public criticisms “pose a significant and imminent threat” to the case, but also narrowed restrictions initially imposed by U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to four felony counts accusing him of a multi-pronged conspiracy to hinder the counting and certification of his 2020 defeat to Democrat Joe Biden. A different D.C. Circuit panel is weighing whether Trump has immunity from the charges.

(Reporting by Andrew Goudsward; Editing by Andy Sullivan and Lisa Shumaker)