Trump gag order must cover judge’s family, hush money trial DA says

Trump gag order must cover judge’s family, hush money trial DA says

Former President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference at 40 Wall Street following a preliminary hearing on March 25, 2024 in New York City.

Michael M. Santiago | Getty Images

Donald Trump’s “extreme and deliberate provocations” in his hush money trial are aimed at undermining the case, the Manhattan district attorney said Monday as he asked a judge to impose a gag order against the former president.

Trump’s “dangerous, violent and reprehensible rhetoric poses a fundamental threat to the integrity of this process and is intended to intimidate witnesses and litigants alike – including this court,” prosecutor Alvin Bragg said in a harrowing filing in the New York Supreme Court.

Bragg’s request came after Trump targeted Judge Juan Merchan’s adult daughter in numerous social media posts over her work for a Democratic political firm. Bragg’s indictment accuses Trump of falsifying business records to conceal a hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 presidential election.

“There is no constitutional right to target this court’s family, let alone the blatant falsehoods that have served as the flimsiest of excuses for the defendant’s attacks,” Bragg’s filing states.

Trump “knows what he’s doing and everyone else knows it too,” the prosecutor wrote.

Last week, Merchan imposed a gag order that prohibits Trump from speaking about likely witnesses and other figures but does not specifically ban criticism of the judge or his family.

Bragg’s office on Thursday asked the judge to “clarify or confirm” that the order protects the court’s family.

Monday’s filing raises the stakes: Bragg wants Merchan to “clarify or expand the court’s family protection order” and Trump warns that “any future violation of the order will result in sanctions.”

Trump’s lawyers responded later Monday that the gag order does not apply to Merchan’s family and that it should not be expanded because it is “already an unlawful prior restraint that improperly restricts the presumptive Republican nominee’s campaign endorsements.”

Their filing also says they will try again to remove the judge from the case, citing “changed circumstances and newly discovered evidence.”

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Her first attempt last May focused on Merchan’s daughter’s role at Authentic Campaigns, a progressive consultant whose clients included President Joe Biden, Trump’s Democratic rival. Merchan refused to withdraw.

Trump’s filing on Monday also suggests that Merchan “violated Canon 3” by participating in a recent interview with The Associated Press even though the judge declined to speak about the case. Canon 3 exhorts judges to minimize the risk of conflict between their private lives and their judicial duties.

Trump’s lawyers also suggested that it would be problematic for New York’s Office of Court Administration to issue a statement Wednesday clarifying that a social media account no longer belongs to Merchan’s daughter.

However, the office only made that statement after Trump sent out several social media posts claiming the account currently belongs to Merchan’s daughter and that it showed evidence of bias.

The hush money trial is scheduled to begin April 15 with jury selection. Trump’s lawyers, who had previously sought to dismiss the charges or delay the trial, are currently calling for a “significant” delay, saying press coverage of the trial has been “prejudicial.”

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2024-04-01 23:11:56