Judge Expands Partial Gag Order in Hush Money Case

(RightWing.org) – On March 26, the judge overseeing Donald Trump’s upcoming Manhattan criminal trial issued an order against the former president. The ruling barred Trump from making public statements about witnesses and jurors and issuing comments about district attorney staffers, court officers, and their families. The order exempted District Attorney Alvin Bragg and Justice Juan Merchan. However, the judge recently expanded the scope of that limited gag order in the hush money case.

On April 1, Merchan issued a decision and order in response to a supplemental filing presented to the court by Manhattan prosecutors. The district attorney’s 11-page document asked the court to clarify the scope of the justice’s March gag order in light of Trump’s recent spate of posts on his Truth Social account railing against Merchan’s daughter. Two since-deleted posts included photos of Loren Merchan.

The justice’s five-page order expanded the original gag order to include family members of “the Court [Merchan] or the District Attorney [Bragg].” At the request of Bragg’s office, Merchan “warned” Trump that violations of the gag order would “result in sanctions under New York’s Judiciary Law ยงยง 750(A)(3) and 751.

The first statute grants the courts the power to impose sanctions against a party in a criminal proceeding who willfully disobeys a “lawful mandate” issued by a judge. The second sets the resulting sanction at imprisonment of up to 30 days, a fine of as much as $1,000, or both.

Trump’s lawyers filed a 13-page opposition to the prosecutor’s supplemental filing. They argued that the former president wasn’t trying to “cause harm to anyone” or interfere with his upcoming trial. Instead, they claimed he posted statements concerning Merchan’s daughter to pressure him to step down due to possible bias related to her previous work as a Democratic consultant.

However, Merchan disagreed with their legal arguments, characterizing them as lacking a “rational” foundation. He also called the lawyers’ defense of the former president’s posts “farcical.”

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