Trump Attacks Judge Who Refused To Further Delay Hush Money Trial: ‘He Hates Me!’

Former President Donald Trump went on the offensive Tuesday against the New York state judge overseeing the criminal trial over the alleged hush-money payments he made in 2016.

Judge Juan Merchan, the latest jurist to face the indicted Republican presidential candidate’s ire for doing their job, is presiding over a trial that stems from payments Trump allegedly made to porn star Stormy Daniels during his 2016 presidential campaign in order to bury accusations he had an affair. The former president was charged last year with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records related to the alleged payments.

Later Tuesday, Merchan issued a gag order against Trump in the hush money case. The order prohibits the former president from speaking publicly about witnesses, jurors, court staff or prosecutors involved in the trial.

“It is without question that the imminency of the risk of harm is now paramount,” he wrote in the order.

As Trump has done in other cases he’s charged in, the GOP presidential frontrunner has fervently denied wrongdoing in the hush-money case. This trial will be the first time a United States president is criminally prosecuted.

In a post on his social media platform, Truth Social, the presumptive 2024 GOP presidential nominee called Merchan a “very distinguished looking man” who is “nevertheless a true and certified Trump Hater who suffers from a very serious case of Trump Derangement Syndrome.

“In other words, he hates me!” Trump continued.

The post comes one day after Merchan ruled that Trump’s trial can proceed on April 15 as scheduled, denying a request by Trump’s lawyers to either further delay the case by 90 days or have it altogether dismissed.

The trial was originally set to start Monday. But Merchan delayed it until next month, after the Manhattan District Attorney’s office received a massive document dump from the federal Southern District of New York that may include new evidence in the case.

That initial delay was meant to give both sides enough time to sift through the documents, which are related to an earlier investigation. That probe centered on whether Trump instructed his then-fixer Michael Cohen to give Daniels $130,000 to stay quiet about an extramarital sexual encounter she allegedly had with the former president years ago. Prosecutors in that case decided against charging Trump, but the federal investigation did lead to Cohen pleading guilty in 2018 to to campaign finance violations, among other charges.

The upcoming hush-money trial is not the first time Merchan will be overseeing a case related to the former president or his business. The judge, a former prosecutor who often handles financial cases, previously presided over a criminal tax fraud prosecution of the Trump Organization that resulted in a $1.6 million fine for the company. The organization’s chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, pleaded guilty and served 100 days in prison for his role, though Merchan commented at the time that he wished he could impose a stricter penalty.

In his Tuesday post, Trump also attacked Merchan for “viciously” treating Weisselberg, who the former president described as “elderly and not in good health.” Nicholas Gravante, who represented Weisselberg in the plea negotiations, said Merchan was “a real listener, well-prepared, always accessible, and a man who kept his word,” according to The Associated Press.

Trump’s attorneys filed a motion in August asking Merchan to recuse himself because of the judge’s remarks about Weisselberg’s sentencing, as well as donations to Democratic groups totaling $35 in 2020 and his daughter’s employment with a political consulting firm that did digital marketing for the Biden campaign. Merchan rejected the calls for his recusal.

Tuesday’s post was the latest attack by Trump against judges overseeing his multiple court cases, as he’s repeatedly claimed the judicial system is attempting to interfere with this year’s election. Trump-appointed U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon earlier this month rejected a bid by Trump’s lawyers to throw out the case accusing him of keeping classified government documents at his personal home in Florida.

Trump has repeatedly attacked Judge Arthur Engoron, who ordered the former president and his Trump Organization associates to pay a hefty fine last month as part of a civil fraud case in New York. Engoron has faced a bomb threat to his home and received an envelope filled with white powder that authorities later said was harmless. The judge’s staff have also been subjected to threats and harassment.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is presiding over the federal insurrection case against Trump in Washington, has also repeatedly faced his anger. She experienced a so-called swatting attempt after someone made a false emergency call about her home.