Judge Partially Lifts Gag Order On Donald Trump After Hush Money Verdict

On Tuesday, the New York judge overseeing former President Donald Trump’s hush money trial partially lifted the gag order that has barred him from speaking about the case’s witnesses and jurors. However, he is still prohibited from revealing identifying information about members of the panel that convicted him on all counts in late May.

“There is ample evidence to justify continued concern for the jurors,” New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan wrote in his five-page order.

Trump is also still barred from attacking prosecutors and court staff, although he has always been free to speak about Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and the judge.

A panel of 12 Manhattanites found Trump guilty of 34 felony counts of falsifying business records relating to a hush money payment made to porn actor Stormy Daniels in the days before the 2016 presidential election. Daniels provided extensive testimony in the trial, as did Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen, who made the payment on behalf of his boss.

The former president faces sentencing in the case on July 11.

Merchan’s order marks a victory for the defense, as Trump’s team has always been opposed to the scope of the gag order. Bragg’s office had not objected to lifting the ban as it related to witnesses, but wanted to preserve the sections about the jury and prosecution.

Trump has barely contained his impulse to go after people involved in the trial. He was found to have breached his gag order on 10 separate occasions at one point in his trial, leading Merchan to fine him $1,000 for each instance.

A total of 22 people testified as witnesses over the course of six weeks. They included David Pecker, a longtime Trump ally whose company American Media Inc. published the National Enquirer. Pecker spoke at the trial about a scheme to use his magazines to promote Trump’s 2016 candidacy by praising him, attacking his enemies and keeping an eye on any information that could be harmful to Trump.

Daniels’ claim that she once had an affair with Trump was deemed potentially harmful to his candidacy, prompting Cohen to arrange the payment. Trump denies the affair.

Others who provided testimony included Keith Davidson, an attorney who represented Daniels at the time; Hope Hicks, Trump’s 2016 campaign spokesperson who went on to work in the White House; and Madeleine Westerhout, who worked near the Oval Office in the early part of Trump’s term.

Trump’s unquenchable thirst for public attacks — online and in campaign speeches — has a documented history of real-world consequences for his targets. People who find themselves in his crosshairs have faced threats of violence against themselves and their families from the former president’s supporters.

Daniels reacted to the news that Trump could now freely attack her with deference to the judge.

“Certainly we have nothing but respect for Judge Merchan,” she wrote on social media.

“His decision to impose restrictions on Mr. Trump, as it related to reckless and unrelenting character attacks on court personnel, trial witnesses, and potentially jurors was extraordinary but clearly justified given the defendant’s uncontrollable daily rants. We also defer to the Judge’s review of that restriction post-trial in the context of free speech and any continuing danger to the judicial process.”