On Tuesday’s Morning Joe, Scarborough demanded that Donald Trump be jailed if he violates the gag order issued yesterday by Judge Tanya Chutkan in the federal election interference case. Indeed, the panel’s working assumption was that it was a question of when, not if, Trump would violate the order.
They always want the “walls closing in” on Trump.
Scarborough had a long back-and-forth with former US Attorney Chuck Rosenberg, who was the comparative voice of reason. Rosenberg said the situation was complicated, and that Chutkan would have to weigh her options. Where is the rhetorical line Trump shouldn’t cross?
Scarborough snidely challenged Rosenberg, saying “I don’t know where you practiced, but where I practiced” a defendant criticizing the prosecution and court would be jailed.
Rosenberg seemed to take umbrage at Scarborough’s crack, saying it was more complicated than throwing Trump and jail, adding “maybe I’m not smart enough to figure out,” where the line lies between protected political speech and violating the judge’s order.
That caused Scarborough to backtrack, assuring Rosenberg that he is “extraordinarily smart.”
And in a variation on his standard false-modesty shtick, Scarborough described himself as “a simple country lawyer that just fell off of a turnip truck outside of 30 Rock.”
What’s Scarborough’s motive in calling for Trump to be hauled off to the hoosegow at the earliest opportunity? Is it Joe’s raging animus toward Trump, or could he imagine that being jailed would hurt Trump’s chances of being nominated or elected? Surely it’s just as likely that campaigning from behind bars would actually help Trump. He’d play the martyr to the max!
Note: The more jewelry-attuned Mika Brzezinski suggested that instead of jailing him, Trump could be confined to Mar-a-Lago with an ankle bracelet. Scarborough acknowledged that could be an alternative.
On Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough calling for Donald Trump to be jailed should he violate Judge Tanya Chutkan’s gag order was sponsored in part by Consumer Cellular.
Here’s the transcript.
6:22 am EDT
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Former President Donald Trump cannot make disparaging comments about prosecutors or potential witnesses in his federal election interference case.
That decision, announced yesterday by U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan. Prosecutors originally asked for a more comprehensive gag order, but Judge Chutkan refused to put restriction on Trump’s statements about Washington, D.C., criticisms of the government, or the Department of Justice.
She did impose a restriction o nall parties, including Trump, banned them from making or reposting any statements publicly targeting the special counsel or his staff, as well as court staff members or personnel.
In her ruling, Judge Chutkan rejected Trump’s team’s argument that he should be allowed to say what he wants because he’s running for president. Quote, Mr. Trump can certainly claim he’s being unfairly prosecuted, but I cannot imagine any other criminal case in which a defendant is permitted to call the prosecutor “deranged” or “a thug,” and I will not permit it here simply because the defendant is running a political campaign.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Let’s, let’s make this simple. Let’s make this simple. I understand he’s running for president. Political speech is protected. I understand he has a right to campaign. She said he’s even allowed to say the process is rigged if he wants to.
At the same time, as the judge stated in her order, she cannot imagine any other trial where you would have a defendantballowed to run out calling prosecutors thugs.bI can’t imagine any criminalbcase in which a defendant is permitted to call the prosecutor deranged or a thug, and I will not permit it here simply because the defendant is running for a political campaign.
So yes, this is unique. What is not unique is the fact that this is — he is a criminal defendant. And she’s exactly right. He cannot. He cannot, because no criminal defendant I’ve ever heard of has been able to attack members of the court, officers of the court, the way Donald Trump is.
CHUCK ROSENBERG: Right. Okay, so a couple of things are simple, Joe. You’re right. He is a criminal defendant. She’s right, the order she issued is narrowly tailored and designed to accomplish all those purposes you just explained.
That said, what does she do when he violates it? And I don’t know there’s a lot of other data points for us, frankly, Joe. There aren’t a lot of cases like
this. I can’t think of any. So, yeah, in some ways, it’s simple. He’s a criminal defendant, and he has to abide her order. Fine, good, got it. What happens when —
SCARBOROUGH: Let me just ask you. Again, I’m sorry. He’s running for president.That’s awesome. Under American, under the United States of America, I mean, under our laws, we believe that nobody is above the law.
What would happen if, in a case that you were trying, any case that you were trying, where a criminal department is told,”don’t call us thugs,” and then he goes out on the court steps, holds a press conference and the defendant calls them thugs?
I don’t know where you practiced. I can tell you, where I practiced, the judge would call him back in, hold him in contempt of court, and throw him in jail.
ROSENBERG: Where I practiced, if somebody violated a court order, the judge would haul them back, hold them in contempt, and sanction them. Maybe fine them. Maybe put them in jail. But they’d certainly sanction them. You and I agree on that, Joe.
There’s a problem here, though. It’s much more difficult than that. And so, I take it, you know, we all ought to try to find the simple answer. I don’t know that there is one. First of all, how do you put somebody with a Secret Service detail in prison?Second, because the First Amendment absolutely protects political speech, tell me precisely what the line is between political speech, valid criticism, let’s say, of Mr. Biden or the Justice Department, and speech that violates her order?
I just don’t know. Maybe I’m not smart enough to figure out where that line clearly lies.
SCARBOROUGH: I think, I think you’re extraordinarily smart. Maybe it’s just because I’m a simple country lawyer that just fell off of a turnip truck outside of 30 Rock. But it seems to me that you have — they get called back in. You don’t create one set of rules for Donald Trump.
MIKA: There’s no ambiguity!
SCARBOROUGH: And another set of rules for the other 330 million people.
MIKA: Just bring him back in!
SCARBOROUGH: I understand it’s a complicated issue and it has to be acted upon with nuance. But if he continues to attack and insult members of the court, I’m quite confident that John Roberts’ Supreme Court will rule with the judge, that there has to be an orderly procedure inside that courtroom if there is somebody constantly attacking the validity of the court and trying to undermine a federal judge and trying to undermine a federal judge and other officers of the court. I don’t think the Roberts court would see it as that complicated, so long as it is narrowly tailored to the contours of actually running the case in a manageable, professional way.
And if he steps out of line, you sanction him. If he steps out of line, sanction him again. If he steps out of line the third time, I think every federal judge would throw him in jail, regardless of who he is.
MIKA: Or put an ankle bracelet on him and put him in Mar-a-Lago.