Trump’s hush money judge orders jurors’ identities be kept secret

A New York judge in former President Trump’s hush money case has ordered the names of jury members be kept secret as the case enters jury selection later this month.

Trump is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records, alleging that he illegally covered up hush money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels to hide an alleged affair just before the 2016 election.

Judge Juan Merchan ruled Thursday that the jury identities be kept private, noting that both Trump’s attorneys and prosecutors agreed to the principle of the protective order. Merchan also extended the protections to courtroom staff.

“Having considered the arguments advanced by the People in their motion and by Defendant in his response, this Court concurs that a protective order is necessary,” Merchan wrote. “The Court further finds good cause, on the record before it, ‘that there is a likelihood of bribery, jury tampering, or of physical injury or harassment of juror(s).’”

Thursday’s ruling comes after prosecutors proposed a gag order for Trump last month. The order seeks to bar Trump from making statements about court staff, their family members and prosecutors other than Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D), so long as the statements are made “with the intent to materially interfere with” the case. Trump would also be barred from making statements about any jurors.

On Monday, Trump’s attorneys denounced the proposed order as “unconstitutional and unlawful.”

“It would be unconstitutional and unlawful to impose a prior restraint on President Trump’s First Amendment speech, which, notably, the People have requested around the time of Super Tuesday and as President Biden prepares to use the State of the Union address for his own political advocacy — to assail President Trump based on politically motivated indictments, including the one in this case,” the attorneys wrote.

Trump faced a similar limited gag order in a New York business fraud case and his federal criminal case over election interference claims. The former president separately faces federal criminal charges in Florida over the mishandling of classified information.

The hush money case is set to go to trial in the coming weeks.

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