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Trump’s Lawyers Lash Out Against Gag Order Request in Hush-Money Case

Alon Skuy/Getty Images
Alon Skuy/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s lawyers on Monday asked the judge overseeing his New York criminal case to throw out prosecutors’ request that he be barred from attacking witnesses and others involved in the trial, arguing that it would be “unconstitutional” to impose a gag order on the former president.

“American voters have the First Amendment right to hear President Trump’s uncensored voice on all issues that relate to this case,” his attorneys wrote in a filing first reported by ABC News.

The lawyers insisted that Trump’s political enemies would attack him on the basis of the case, which concerns his alleged efforts to conceal $130,000 in hush money payments made to the adult film star Stormy Daniels in the days leading up to the 2016 presidential election. “The voters have the right to listen to President Trump's unfettered responses to those attacks—not just one side of that debate,” they added.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, whose office charged Trump with 34 counts of falsifying business records in the case, requested the gag order in a “narrowly tailored” pretrial motion last Monday. Prosecutors for Bragg asked state Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan prohibit Trump from speaking about witnesses, prosecutors, court staff, and their family members.

Notably, they did not ask that Merchan bar the former president from making comments about Bragg.

The district attorney’s office cited Trump’s “long history of making public and inflammatory remarks about the participants in various judicial proceedings against him,” saying his rhetoric posed both “a significant and imminent threat to the orderly administration of this criminal proceeding and a substantial likelihood of causing material prejudice.”

Prosecutors also asked that Trump be prevented from revealing personal information about the jurors at the trial, including their names and addresses, though they did not request the jury be anonymized. Instead, the court should “put defendant on notice that he will forfeit any statutory right he may have to access juror names if he engages in any conduct that threatens the safety and integrity of the jury or the jury-selection process,” they wrote.

In a statement issued shortly after the gag order request was filed, Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung slammed it as “an unconstitutional infringement on President Trump’s First Amendment rights, including his ability to defend himself, and the rights of all Americans to hear from President Trump.”

The Manhattan trial, which stems from the first of four criminal indictments filed against Trump, is set to kick off with jury selection on March 25. He has denied all wrongdoing in the matter.

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