Even before the order was issued, Trump’s lawyer John Lauro said they would appeal any such order, as it would affect important free speech principles, particularly for a leading candidate for president.

Trump “can argue that this prosecution is politically motivated,” the judge said, but he cannot disparage the prosecutor by calling him a thug or “vilify and implicitly encourage violence against public servants who are simply doing their jobs.”

She is also barring Trump and all parties from making statements about witnesses in the case.

Smith brought four counts against Trump in the case on August 1. They include:

Trump could serve a maximum of 55 years in prison, and could technically face the death penalty under Count 4.

Smith has aimed for a January 2, 2024, trial date during an election year and less than two weeks before the Iowa caucuses.

The Trump campaign said in a statement in response to the judge’s decision:

Today’s decision is an absolute abomination and another partisan knife stuck in the heart of our Democracy by Crooked Joe Biden, who was granted the right to muzzle his political opponent, the leading candidate for the Presidency in 2024, and the most popular political leader in America, President Donald J. Trump. President Trump will continue to fight for our Constitution, the American people’s right to support him, and to keep our country free of the chains of weaponized and targeted law enforcement.

The case is United States v. Trump, No. 1:23-cr-257-TSC in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø. He is the author of Politics of Slave Morality.