Advertisement

Judge imposes gag order in Trump hush money case

A New York judge placed Donald Trump under a gag order ahead of his criminal hush money case that begins 15 April.

He is barred from making public statements about court staff, jurors, witnesses and lawyers in the district attorney's office - or their families.

The gag order does not apply to the district attorney.

The Trump campaign said the order, which is limited in some instances, violated his free speech rights.

In several instances, the order requires that the comments would have to be "made with the intent to materially interfere" with the case.

Justice Juan Merchan granted the limited gag order after Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg requested it.

Earlier today, Mr Trump attacked Justice Merchan's daughter on his Truth Social account, and called the judge a "certified Trump hater".

Mr Trump faces 34 felony counts in connection with hush money payments allegedly made to Stormy Daniels, an adult film star, ahead of the 2016 election.

He has pleaded not guilty and called the case politically motivated.

In his order, Justice Merchan wrote that he had considered Mr Trump's constitutional free speech rights, but concluded that the former president's "extrajudicial statements went far beyond defending himself against 'attacks' by 'public figures'".

Instead, Justice Merchan said he had found Mr Trump's "statements were threatening, inflammatory, denigrating" and led to fear and increased security requirements for those targeted.

Mr Bragg had asked the court to issue a gag order in February, citing the former president's "longstanding and singular history" of attacking his opponents.

Mr Trump's attorneys argued, however, that he is "the presumptive Republican nominee and leading candidate in the 2024 election". They said that it would be "unconstitutional and unlawful" to impose restrictions on his speech.

Justice Merchan is not the first judge to impose such restrictions on Mr Trump.

The former president has frequently attacked prosecutors and court staffers involved in his myriad of legal cases. At times, it has served to galvanize his supporters.

A judge in an earlier civil case involving his real estate companies placed Mr Trump under a gag order after he attacked a court clerk via social media. He also twice fined the former president for violating the order.

Mr Trump must pay a $454m bond that came as a result of that civil fraud trial. An appeals court temporarily slashed that payment to $175m on Monday.