Trump asks hush money judge to lift gag order

Attorneys for former President Trump have asked the judge overseeing his hush money criminal case to lift a gag order imposed on his speech now that the trial is over.

Judge Juan Merchan earlier this year barred Trump from publicly attacking witnesses, jurors, court staff and prosecutors. The order was later expanded to include the family members of prosecutors or the judge, after a barrage of attacks against Merchan’s daughter, who served as an executive at a progressive political consulting firm.

The order never stopped Trump from taking aim at Merchan or Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D).

Prosecutors argued that the gag order would “protect the integrity of this criminal proceeding and avoid prejudice to the jury.” Merchan agreed, writing that Trump’s tactic of targeting people involved in his legal matters and their families “injects fear” into the proceedings.

“Now that the trial is concluded, the concerns articulated by the government and the Court do not justify continued restrictions on the First Amendment rights of President Trump — who remains the leading candidate in the 2024 presidential election — and the American people,” Trump attorneys Todd Blanche and Emil Bove wrote in a premotion letter Tuesday, clearly stating that they don’t concede the order was valid and reserve the right to challenge the “irreparable First Amendment harms” caused by it.

As reasons to lift the gag order, Trump’s attorneys pointed to an event outside the Manhattan Criminal Court on May 28, where actor Robert De Niro and two Jan. 6 police officers railed against Trump on behalf of President Biden’s campaign, and Biden’s own remarks after Trump’s jury reached a “guilty” verdict Thursday on 34 counts of falsifying business records.

“The American principle that no one is above the law was reaffirmed. Donald Trump was given every opportunity to defend himself. It was a state case, not a federal case,” Biden said last week. “It was heard by a jury of 12 citizens … like millions of Americans who served on juries, this jury was chosen the same way every jury in America was chosen.”

The former president’s counsel noted that the first presidential debate between Biden and Trump, scheduled for June 27, is rapidly approaching.

In addition, Trump’s attorneys pointed to “continued public attacks” from star state witnesses Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels in the aftermath of the verdict.

Cohen, Trump’s ex-fixer, has said since the verdict that as long as he and Trump “exist on this planet at the same time,” Trump will seek to hurt him — and he will “never be a punching bag to Donald Trump or anyone.”

Daniels, the porn star who was paid to keep quiet about her alleged affair with Trump ahead of the 2016 election, has said she thinks Trump should “be sentenced to jail and some community service.”

Trump has launched attacks against the family members of judges across all his legal cases, and the family members of other political foes.

He’s scheduled to be sentenced on July 11 in his hush money criminal case, just days before he’s set to officially become the Republican Party’s presidential nominee.

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