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Judge imposes gag order on Trump in Manhattan criminal trial

The New York judge presiding over Donald J. Trump’s criminal trial issued a gag order on Tuesday barring him from attacking witnesses, prosecutors and jurors, a move to curb the former president’s push against his legal opponents. The latest move in angry rhetoric.

Judge Juan M. Merchan issued the order at the request of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, which brought the case against Trump. District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg accused Trump of covering up potential sexual conduct. Scandals during and after the 2016 campaign.

The ruling came after Judge Merchant set a trial date for April 15, rejecting Trump’s latest effort to delay the proceedings. It would mark the first criminal prosecution of a former U.S. president.

With three other criminal cases against Trump recently clinched the Republican presidential nomination for a third time, the Manhattan case is likely to be the only one that goes to trial before voters vote in November.

Under the judge’s gag order, Mr. Trump cannot make or direct statements from witnesses about their role in the case. Mr. Trump is also barred from commenting on prosecutors, court staff and their relatives – and any comments about jurors if he intends to interfere, the judge ruled.

There is one notable exception to the gag order: Mr. Trump is not prohibited from attacking Mr. Bragg, who has received numerous death threats in recent months.

A strictly crafted gag order strictly adheres to the terms of an order Upheld by federal appeals court in Washington on another criminal case against Mr. Trump. In seeking a gag order last month, Mr. Bragg’s prosecutors highlighted Mr. Trump’s “long history of attacks on witnesses, investigators, prosecutors, judges and others involved in the legal proceedings against him” — the judge noted in his ruling Live reviews.

“His comments were threatening, inflammatory and defamatory,” Judge Merchian wrote in Tuesday’s order.

For example, Mr. Trump took aim at Michael D. Cohen, a former fixer for Mr. Bragg and one of his key witnesses, calling him a “liar” and a “rat.” Trump made ominous references to Mr Cohen on media websites on Tuesday, claiming without explanation that his former fixer had “died”. He also referred to one of Mr. Bragg’s prosecutors in derogatory terms.

Both comments now controversially violate the gag order. In another post, Mr. Trump took aim at Judge Merchant and his family, claiming the judge “hates me,” although the comments did not appear to cross the line the judge has now set.

This order, along with Judge Merchan’s recent protective order Identity of Potential Judge The case reflects the sometimes angry and chaotic atmosphere surrounding Trump’s trial.

Mr. Trump recently lost a civil fraud case brought by the New York state attorney general. The white powder envelope has been sent Submissions were made to the Attorney General’s Office and the judge overseeing the case.So did Judge Arthur F. Engoron Victim of hoax bomb threat In his home.

Mr. Trump has called Justice Ngolon a “crazy guy” and he has targeted prosecutors in all criminal cases, falsely accusing them of collusion with President Biden. He called Mr. Bragg, a black Democrat, “racist.”

Trump’s lawyers opposed the order in the Manhattan case, arguing that “imposing prior restraints on President Trump’s First Amendment speech is unconstitutional and unlawful.”

Judge Murchin is the latest judge to impose a gag order on a former president.

In addition to the order in a Washington criminal case accusing Trump of conspiring to overturn the 2020 election, Trump has also been ordered not to comment to court staff civil fraud Judge Ngoren fined the former president $15,000 for violating the order after attacking his chief law clerk.

In the end, the judge ruled in favor of the attorney general, and Trump was awarded more than $450 million in damages.

Trump faces up to four years in prison in the Manhattan criminal case. The case stems from hush-money payments made by Mr. Cohen during the 2016 campaign to a porn star who wanted to sell stories about her sexual encounters with Mr. Trump. After he was elected, Mr. Trump helped falsify business records related to his reimbursements to Mr. Cohen, prosecutors said, further hiding the scandal from voters.

After Mr. Bragg filed the lawsuit last year, Judge Murchin initially did not impose a gag order while instructing Mr. Trump not to make comments that “could incite violence or civil unrest.” But since then, Mr. Trump has continued to attack witnesses and prosecutors, prompting Mr. Bragg to seek a more formal order.

The judge’s recent order protecting potential jurors in the case effectively bars Trump from revealing their identities and underscores the need to protect those who may decide highly sensitive cases.

The judge also ordered that their addresses be kept secret from all but attorneys in the case, a measure that Trump’s legal team did not oppose.

In a separate order on Tuesday, Judge Merchant also issued a stern warning to Trump’s lawyers. He reminded them to behave professionally or risk being looked down upon.

“This Court emphasizes that it expects and fully expects zealous advocacy by counsel and positive contributions from witnesses and parties,” Judge Merchian wrote. “Nonetheless, the Court anticipates that the line between zealous advocacy and willful disregard for its orders will not be crossed. .”

Jesse McKinley and Kate Christobeck Contributed reporting.

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