Tue. Apr 23rd, 2024

Judge in hush money case hits Trump with partial gag order

By 37ci3 Mar26,2024



A judge presiding over a criminal case in New York Donald Trump On Tuesday, the former president was slapped with a partial gag order.

Judge Juan Merca’s ruling orders Trump to refrain from “disclosing to or directing others regarding the potential involvement of known or reasonably foreseeable witnesses.” falsified business records caseas well as about individual prosecutors, court staff, jurors, and potential jurors.

The order does not apply to the judge or Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

The judge said the move was now necessary because “defendant’s prior out-of-court statements present a substantial risk to the administration of justice” and “there are no less restrictive means to prevent such risk.”

Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung called the order “unconstitutional” and argued that it interfered with Trump’s “fundamental political speech, which is entitled to the highest level of First Amendment protection.”

Trump’s lawyers argued in court filings that because he is the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, he “should have unfettered access to the voting public to respond to attacks by political opponents.”

Merchan said he was “not convinced” by those arguments and that Trump’s public comments on the case “go far beyond self-defense against attacks.”

The judge noted Trump’s past statements in the case and others’ “threatening, inflammatory” and “defamatory” statements. and said similar attacks would “undoubtedly run the risk of disrupting the orderly administration of the Court.”

Merchan also suggested that he had first-hand information about being the subject of Trump’s comments, citing, among other things, “the nature and impact of the statements made against this Court and a family member.”

The decision came hours after Trump took to his social media platform, Truth Social, to criticize the judge, Bragg, the judge’s daughter, and former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, a key witness in the case. The article referred to Cohen as a “liar and criminal” and also referred to the former prosecutor in the case, Mark Pomeranz, as a “dirty lawyer”.

Cohen said in a statement that he was grateful for the judge’s action.

“I want to thank Judge Merchan for ordering a gag order because I was viciously attacked by Donald’s MAGA supporters,” he said. “However, knowing Donald as well as I do, he will try to defy the gag order by recruiting people around him to do his bidding, regardless of the consequences.”

Cohen admitted his guilt In 2018, to criminal charges including hush money deals for women who claimed to have had an affair with Trump.

The DA’s case is based on Trump’s restitution payments Cohen For $130,000, he paid one of the women, adult film star Stormi DanielsKeeping quiet about her alleged sex with Trump in 2006.

Trump has denied sleeping with Daniels, but he has admitted paying Cohen. He pleaded not guilty to charges of “repeatedly and fraudulently falsifying New York business records.”

The trial in the case is set for April 15.

Merchan said, “given that the eve of judgment is upon us, certainly the risk of harm is imminent now is very important.”

Tuesday’s ruling is Trump’s third partial gag order in the past year. Into civil fraud trial In January, Judge Arthur Engoron ordered Trump and his attorneys not to talk about his attorney or other court staff after the former president’s insistence that the secretary was biased led to “a flurry” of threats against him.

Judge Tanya Chutkan, who presided over the case of Trump’s meddling in the federal elections in Washington, issued such a decision in October. baretc To him from rubbish witnesses, individual prosecutors and court staff.

Chutkan said Trump could continue to “criticize the current administration and continue to believe that this prosecution is politically motivated.” But, he added, “first amendment freedoms do not allow him to launch a pre-trial smear campaign against the government employees involved, their families and prospective witnesses.”

Later, the appellate court narrowed the range, gave Trump some leeway to speak if a high-profile witness made disparaging comments about him. The case has been put on hold while the Supreme Court hears Trump’s case presidential immunity defense.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office requested this from Merchan partial congestion order said last month that Trump “has a long history of making public and inflammatory statements about various participants in legal proceedings, including jurors, witnesses, attorneys and court staff.”

“Those statements, as well as the inevitable reactions they provoked from the defendant’s followers and allies, pose a significant and imminent threat to the orderly conduct of this criminal proceeding and the possibility of material prejudice,” Bragg’s office said.

It was one of Merchan’s gag orders on Tuesday.

In one, he rejected Trump’s efforts to repeal a new process for filing pretrial motions. Merchan changed procedure after Trump’s lawyers tried to raise presidential immunity defenses and asked the judge to delay the trial until the Supreme Court rules on the federal election meddling suit. Trump’s request came two weeks before the hush-hush case was originally set to go to trial.

In response, Merchan said both sides would have to seek his permission to file any other motions. Trump’s lawyers argued that this would violate his client’s right to a fair trial. Merchan disagreed, saying he had “special authority” to do so.

In a third ruling, Merchan denied Trump’s motion to unseal the documents and make public documents in the case immediately visible in the court docket. The judge noted that there was a protective order prohibiting certain information from being released to the public, and said, “The court generally understands that anything that is kept in the court file is now in the public file.”

“If the accused believes that anything not subject to the Protection Order or the law, which is normally held, is not in the court file, he must present the document to the Court and the public. The Court will consider any objections and make a decision on the matter,” Merchan added.

News organizations, including NBC News Group, had asked the judge to quickly file the motions in public court and to turn over emails between the parties to the court. The judge did not address the letter from the media outlets in his order issued on Tuesday.



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