Judge Partially Lifts Trump’s Gag Order Ahead of Debate

Joe Raedle
Joe Raedle

Judge Juan Merchan has altered Donald Trump’s gag order, allowing the former president to comment on witnesses and jurors in his hush-money trial.

However, Trump is still barred from talking about lawyers and staff for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office plus any of their family members, as well as the court itself. Merchan also said Trump could talk generally about the jurors but is prohibited from revealing their identities.

The ruling is a big win for Trump just two days out from his presidential debate against President Joe Biden given it will allow him to attack his former lawyer Michael Cohen and porn star Stormy Daniels among others.

The partial gag order will remain in place until his sentencing on July 11. Trump was convicted on May 30 on 34 counts of falsifying business records after paying off Daniels in the lead-up to the 2016 election. She has claimed the two had an affair just four months after Melania Trump gave birth to the former president’s youngest son Barron. Trump denies the claims.

Merchan issued the gag order on March 26, a few weeks before the start of the trial, during which Merchan held Trump in contempt 10 times and fined him a total of $10,000 for breaching the order.

He said Tuesday that the gag order was “overwhelmingly supported by the record” and that two New York appellate courts had also rejected Trump’s attempts to have it lifted.

“However, circumstances have now changed,” Merchan wrote. “The trial portion of these proceedings ended when the verdict was rendered, and the jury discharged.”

Each of Trump’s felony counts carry a maximum penalty of four years in prison, however many expect Merchan to deliver a much lighter sentence which would include no time behind bars.

Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said despite winning a partial concession on the gage order, the former president’s legal team “will immediately challenge” the decision.

“This is another unlawful decision by a highly conflicted judge, which is blatantly un-American as it gags President Trump, the leading candidate in the 2024 Presidential Election during the upcoming Presidential Debate on Thursday,” he said.

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