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Judge Extends Gag Order Against Trump In Stormy Daniels Case

Justice Juan M. Merchan of the New York Supreme Court has expanded his gag order to include former President Donald Trump’s family and District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s family in the criminal trial related to “hush money.”
The extension comes after Trump made derogatory remarks about Justice Merchan’s daughter, labeling her a “Rabid Trump Hater” and accusing her of posting anti-Trump content on social media.
The New York Times reported that the gag order was extended following a request from Bragg.
“The average observer, must now, after hearing Defendant’s recent attacks, draw the conclusion that if they become involved in these proceedings, even tangentially, they should worry not only for themselves, but for their loved ones as well,” wrote Merchan. “Such concerns will undoubtedly interfere with the fair administration of justice and constitutes a direct attack on the Rule of Law itself.”

He continued, “Again, all citizens, called upon to participate in these proceedings, whether as a juror, a witness, or in some other capacity, must now concern themselves not only with their own personal safety, but with the safety and the potential for personal attacks upon their loved ones. That reality cannot be overstated.”

Judge Merchan denied the defense’s request to delay the Manhattan trial until summer and instead scheduled it to begin on April 15. This ruling mirrors a gag order issued in Trump’s election interference case in Washington, D.C.
“Given that the eve of trial is upon us, it is without question that the imminency of the risk of harm is now paramount,” Merchan wrote in a four-page decision granting the prosecution’s request for what it deemed a “narrowly tailored” gag order.

“The judge said the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s statements have induced fear and necessitated added security measures to protect his targets and investigate threats. Trump’s lawyers fought a gag order, warning it would amount to an unconstitutional and unlawful prior restraint on his free speech rights. Merchan, who had long resisted imposing a gag order, said his obligation to ensure the integrity of the trial outweighed First Amendment concerns,” the Associated Press reported.

In a court filing, Trump lawyers Todd Blanche and Susan Necheles said: “President Trump’s political opponents have, and will continue to, attack him based on this case. The voters have the right to listen to President Trump’s unfettered responses to those attacks — not just one side of that debate.”

The gag order prevents Trump from discussing potential witnesses and jurors in the hush-money case or instructing others to do so. It also prohibits any comments meant to intimidate or distress the prosecution team, court staff, or their families.

While Trump can talk about Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and Merchan, whom he previously criticized, he is cautioned against making negative remarks about key figures like Stormy Daniels and Michael Cohen.

Violating the order could result in imprisonment, fines, or contempt of court charges for Trump.

Cohen, Trump’s former “fixer” who will serve as a key prosecution witness against Trump, released a statement saying, “I want to thank Judge Merchan for imposing the gag order as I have been under relentless assault from Donald’s MAGA supporters. Nevertheless, knowing Donald as well as I do, he will seek to defy the gag order by employing others within his circle to do his bidding, regardless of consequence.”

The gag order reinforces existing restrictions that prevent Trump from defaming witnesses in the case using evidence.

At the core of Trump’s hush-money scandal are accusations that he misrepresented payments to his then-personal attorney, Cohen, as legal fees on his business records.

These payments were allegedly for Cohen’s help in concealing damaging stories about Trump during the 2016 campaign, including the $130,000 given to Daniels to keep quiet about their alleged sexual encounter.

Last year in April, Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records, a felony with a potential four-year prison term. However, a conviction does not guarantee imprisonment for Trump.

Trump denies any sexual involvement with Daniels and insists that Cohen’s payments were legitimate legal fees unrelated to any cover-up scheme according to his legal team.

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