Prosecutors ask judge to keep Trump gag order for jurors

Prosecutors in former President Trump’s New York hush money case asked a judge Thursday to keep his gag order in place until Trump’s sentencing in July.

The move comes nearly a month after a Manhattan jury convicted the former president on 34 counts of falsifying business records in his New York hush money trial. The verdict made Trump the first former president in U.S. history to be convicted of felony crimes.

Judge Juan Merchan imposed the initial gag order in late March to prevent the former president from publicly attacking witnesses, jurors and others involved in the trial. Trump has argued the order violates his First Amendment rights.

Citing more than 50 threats made against officials connected to the case, the prosecutors argued in the Thursday filing that the judge should not rule in favor of Trump’s motion to lift the gag order.

Prosecutors contended the gag order should remain in place for jurors, prosecutors and court staff, saying prosecutors and court staff are still involved in Trump’s sentencing and should continue to be protected.

They also argued, in the jurors’ case, that the court has a long precedent of maintaining gag orders to protect jurors even after a trial’s conclusion.

Prosecutors also pointed to two prior instances during the case when Trump criticized “the jury as an institution,” which is still permitted under the gag order, the former president directed public attention to the jurors and led them to fear for their safety and that of their loved ones.

“Although these statements did not refer to the jurors individually or by name, this Court nonetheless correctly found that the statements violated the juror provision because they directed public attention to the jurors and ‘raised the specter of fear for the safety of the jurors and their loved ones.'”

Prosecutors did relent that it would be appropriate to lift the gag order for witnesses in the case. Part of Trump’s argument when filing the motion to dismiss rested on claims that star state witnesses Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels were publicly attacking Trump after the conviction.

They also pointed to “categorically false accusations” Trump and his counsel have made to argue the gag order should be maintained, specifically mentioning Trump’s claim that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D) is working with President Biden and his assertion that the DA’s office is attempting to delay proceedings until after the presidential debate.

“These knowing falsehoods are just the latest examples of defendant’s patent disrespect for the rule of law and the impartial administration of justice,” prosecutors wrote.

The filing comes after New York’s top court on Tuesday dismissed Trump’s appeal to overturn the gag order, saying “no substantial constitutional question” was raised by the appeal.

Trump’s sentencing is scheduled for July 11 — just four days before the start of the Republican National Convention, where he is set to officially become the GOP’s presidential nominee.

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