Judge Calls Out Trump For Making False Claims About Gag Order

After proclaiming last year that he would “absolutely” testify in his own defense if any of his criminal cases go to trial, former President Donald Trump appears to be singing a new tune.

Trump claimed Thursday he would be unable to testify in the trial concerning a hush money scheme and falsified business records, and blamed the gag order he’s currently under for keeping him off the stand.

“I’m not allowed to testify. I’m under a gag order,” he told reporters in the hallway outside the courtroom. “I’m not allowed to testify because this judge who’s totally conflicted, has me under an unconstitutional gag order.”

Judge Juan Merchan corrected Trump’s apparent misunderstanding before the jury filed in Friday morning.

The gag order “does not prohibit you from taking the stand,” Merchan told Trump. “As the name of the order indicates, it only applies to extrajudicial statements.”

CNN fact checker Daniel Dale called out Trump’s lie immediately.

“This claim that the gag order means he can’t testify, it’s just conjured out of thin air,” he told Jake Tapper on Thursday.

“Trump has gone from saying that he will testify, to he maybe will testify, to if it’s necessary, to now, ‘Whoa, whoa, I can’t testify, it’s out of my hands.’ But it’s in his hands. He can testify and he’s just making stuff up.”

Under the terms of the order, Trump cannot talk about the jurors in the case, witnesses that may be called, or any of the court staff. But he’s free to discuss anything else related to the case, including Merchan and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg ― whom he’s attacked repeatedly.

Should Trump actually take the stand, as he unequivocally pledged to do, it would likely be against the advice of his attorneys. Criminal defendants are generally advised not to testify in their own defense.