During a hearing on whether to set a protective order on evidence sharing in the 2020 election fraud case, Judge Tanya Chutkan made clear to former President Donald Trump's legal team that "I will be scrutinizing" everything the former president says in public in the leadup to the trial.
Chutkan asked hard questions of both the defense and prosecution as they tried to get the most favorable conditions possible ahead of trial, as POLITICO's Kyle Cheney documented.
However, Chutkan did not go so far as the prosecution wanted in issuing a strict order that limits the discussion of "non-sensitive" documents, concerned that this would conflict with Trump's free speech rights.
"At this point, I'm not persuaded that the government has shown good cause to subject to the protective order all the information in this case," she said.
While Chutkan was deferential to Trump's free speech rights, she also made clear that she would not let any consideration of Trump's presidential campaign, and whether the trial and its rules would help or hurt it, factor into her decisions. “I cannot and will not factor into my decision” any impact on the campaign, "for either side," she said, adding, "The existence of a political campaign is not going to factor into my decision. I intend to keep politics out of this.”
Chutkan also said she is "not comfortable" with the Trump team's demand to allow "volunteer attorneys" and people Trump or his campaign haven't retained to review discovery information, saying under their proposed language, "It allows just about anybody — I live in Washington. Anyone is a consultant."
She added it would give unindicted co-conspirators a way to see the documents.
Many other details of the trial still have to be worked out, including a date, although the prosecution is pushing for early January.