Trump hush-money judge expands gag order to ban attacks on judge’s daughter

Trump hush-money judge expands gag order to ban attacks on judge’s daughter
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A courtroom sketch of New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan at Donald Trump's hush-money arraignment.
New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan

  • Hush-money judge Juan Merchan on Monday revised Trump’s gag order.
  • The GOP frontrunner must stop making statements about the judge’s progressive daughter.
  • Trump last week spread false information about the judge’s daughter, a Democratic consultant.

Donald Trump’s New York hush-money judge on Monday expanded his gag order to bar statements about the judge’s daughter.

Trump is now barred from personally making — or directing others to make — statements about “family members of any counsel, staff member, the Court or the District Attorney,” if those statements are made with the intent to materially interfere with the case, the updated gag order now reads.

“It remains this Court’s fundamental responsibility to protect the integrity of the criminal process and to control distruptive influences in the court,” wrote the judge, New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan.

“To argue that the most recent attacks, which included photographs, were ‘necessary and appropriate in the current environment,’ is farcical,” the judge said, referring to Trump’s side’s arguments against expanding the gag.

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The judge’s order came hours after a volley of court filings by prosecutors and the defense earlier Monday. Prosecutors denounced Trump’s “reprehensible” attacks on the judge’s daughter, and the defense doubled down on the attacks, calling them Constitutionally protected free speech.

Trump’s first criminal case remains on track for jury selection on April 15.

The case alleges Trump falsified 34 business documents to illegally hide $130,000 in hush money he paid to porn star Stormy Daniels only 11 days before the 2016 election.

Prosecutors say Trump violated tax and campaign finance law by disguising the payment afterward as legal fees for then-personal attorney Michael Cohen. Trump has denied falsifying business documents and said he never had sex with Daniels.

A history of the hush-money gag

Monday’s order is the latest in a contentious, monthlong battle over how much Trump can say about his first criminal case to go to trial.

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Prosecutors first sought a gag in late February, when they complained about the GOP frontrunner’s lack of “impulse control” and propensity to attack witnesses and court staff.

Trump countered in early March that “tens of millions” of Americans want to hear his views on the case.

The judge held off on gagging Trump for three weeks, telling both sides that a warning was sufficient.

Then, early on March 26, Trump referred to Merchan’s progressive, political-consultant daughter in a Truth Social post.

Loren Merchan helps run the the Chicago-based, progressive political consulting firm Authentic Campaigns, which has worked on campaigns for key Trump rivals, including Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, and California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

“His daughter is a senior executive at a Super Liberal Democrat firm,” Trump wrote.

Merchan’s gag order was made public just four hours later.

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A gag with loopholes

It barred Trump from making statements about witnesses, jurors, case prosecutors, and court staff. But it made no specific mention of barring statements against Merchan, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, or their families.

A day after the gag, on March 27, Trump amped up his Truth Social attacks on Merchan’s daughter, this time mentioning her by name.

Trump falsely claimed that the daughter had a profile picture on her X account depicting Trump behind bars.

The daughter “has just posted a picture of me behind bars, her obvious goal,” Trump posted.

Court officials and prosecutors later countered that the account Trump referenced was a hoax.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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