Donald Trump snubbed: Judge expands gag order in hush money case

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The judge in Donald Trump’s hush money trial has extended a gag order to include the court and the Manhattan district attorney’s family members.

The court order comes after the former president made remarks about the judge’s daughter.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office requested the judge broaden the gag order. They wanted Donald Trump to be prevented from making comments about family members of the judicial people involved in the case. The prosecutors asked Judge Juan Merchan to clarify that Trump is not allowed to make public statements about family members of the court, the District Attorney, and others mentioned in the order.

“This Court should immediately make clear that defendant is prohibited from making or directing others to make public statements about family members of the Court, the District Attorney, and all other individuals mentioned in the Order,” prosecutors said on Monday in an appeal to Judge Juan Merchan.

After Merchan issued the gag order preventing Donald Trump from talking about witnesses, jurors, prosecutors, court staff, or their family members, the 77-year-old started posting on his social media platform. The gag order did not include District Attorney Alvin Bragg or the judge and his family.

Donald Trump claimed that Merchan was “compromised” and named the judge’s daughter, who works for a political consulting firm. He referred to posts on a social media platform from an account he claimed belonged to his daughter. However, the court spokesperson said the judge’s daughter had deactivated her account two years ago and the posts were not hers.

“Defendant knows what he is doing, and everyone else does too. And we all know exactly what defendant intends because he has said for decades that it is part of his life philosophy to go after his perceived opponents ‘as viciously and as violently’ as he can,” prosecutors wrote.

“But the suggestion that defendant is merely engaging in political counter-speech is an obvious fiction that this Court should emphatically reject,” prosecutors wrote. “None of defendant’s attacks in the past week consist of campaign advocacy. Instead, defendant has viciously and falsely smeared the Court and the family member for no reason other than the Court’s presiding over this criminal trial.”

Trump’s lawyers opposed the gag order, which they believed was already too restrictive, and they may appeal Merchan’s order. They argued that the current gag order did not apply to the judge or Bragg’s family members.

“The Court should reject the People’s invitations to expand the gag order, which is already an unlawful prior restraint that improperly restricts campaign advocacy by the presumptive Republican nominee and leading candidate in the 2024 presidential election,” Trump’s attorneys wrote.

They also believe that Merchan’s daughter is fair game for Trump’s public criticisms.

“Accordingly, because the gag order expressly does not apply to family members of the Court or the District Attorney, and because the challenged social media posts were not intended to materially interfere with these proceedings, President Trump did not violate the gag order and no contempt warning would be appropriate.”

Trump’s lawyers have also asked Merchan to allow them to file a motion to recuse the judge from the case, which is set to begin in two weeks, based on new evidence and changed circumstances.

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