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Judge expands gag order for Trump in hush money trial

Former President Donald Trump Associated Press/Photo by Frank Franklin II

Judge expands gag order for Trump in hush money trial

Acting New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan on Monday ordered former President Donald Trump not to criticize members of his family.

Which case does this involve? The expanded gag order applies to Trump’s “hush money” case in Manhattan, N.Y. Prosecutors have filed 34 charges accusing him of falsifying business records. In an associated Statement of Facts, the prosecutors clarified the allegations to state that Trump hid payments made to prevent a porn star from speaking up about an extramarital affair she had with Trump. The former president has denied wrongdoing.

Why did the judge expand the gag order? Merchan issued a gag order last week preventing Trump from criticizing prosecutors, witnesses, or jurors. The order exempted Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, implying that Trump could criticize him specifically.

Shortly after he issued the gag order, Trump took to his social media platform, Truth Social, and began criticizing Merchan and his daughter. Trump accused Merchan of wrongfully depriving him of his First Amendment rights. He also criticized Merchan’s daughter for allegedly posting a picture of him behind bars and for having worked with Democrats in the past.

Merchan acknowledged the criticisms against him and his family in his expanded gag order, saying they were not protected political speech and served no legitimate purpose. He said Trump’s comments could inspire fear among witnesses, jurors, and other individuals connected to the trial that their family members could fall victim to Trump’s rhetoric. Merchan argued that Trump’s speech threatened the credibility of the judicial system, which was no longer theoretical. “The threat is very real,” Merchan said.

Merchan’s new order says Trump cannot direct comments at members of the court’s family or the district attorney’s family. If he does not abide by the order, he could be charged with contempt of court and face a fine or even imprisonment. He and his legal team could also lose access to jurors’ names.

Dig deeper: Listen to Leo Briceno and Carolina Lumetta’s report on The World and Everything in It podcast about Trump’s $175 million bond payment in a separate New York civil fraud case.

Josh Schumacher

Josh is a breaking news reporter for WORLD. He’s a graduate of World Journalism Institute and Patrick Henry College.

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