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Judge in New York hush money case places limited gag order on Trump

Witthaya Prasongsin/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) — The judge in Donald Trump’s criminal hush money case in New York has granted the Manhattan district attorney’s request for a limited gag order on the former president.


The order, by Judge Juan Merchan, restricts Trump’s public statements about witnesses and others.

Statements made by Trump about witnesses, prosecutors, judges and others tied to his criminal and civil cases “were threatening, inflammatory, denigrating” and represent “a sufficient risk to the administration of justice,” Judge Merchan said Tuesday in deciding to impose the partial gag order.

“The consequences of those statements included not only fear on the part of the individual targeted, abut also the assignment of increased security resources to investigate threats and protect the individuals and family members thereof,” Merchan said.

The order prevents Trump from making public statements about witnesses in the hush money case, prospective jurors, members of the court staff and their families, and lawyers other than Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

The partial gag order follows Trump’s disparaging remarks about Merchan and his daughter after the judge on Monday rejected Trump’s bid for a delay and set the trial date for April 15.

“Such inflammatory extrajudicial statements undoubtedly risk impending the orderly administration of this Court,” Merchan said, adding “there exists no less restrictive means to prevent such risk.”

Trump last April pleaded not guilty to a 34-count indictment charging him with falsifying business records in connection with a hush money payment his then-attorney Michael Cohen made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels just days before the 2016 presidential election. The former president has denied all wrongdoing.

“Given that the eve of trial is upon us, it is without question that the immanency of the risk of harm is now paramount,” the judge said in his ruling Tuesday.

Also Tuesday, Trump again sought to delay the trial, seeking a new delay based on “exceptionally prejudicial pretrial publicity.”

Trump’s attorneys argued in a court filing that “potential jurors in Manhattan have been exposed to huge amounts of biased and unfair media coverage relating to this case,” particularly, they said, the new documentary about Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.

Defense attorneys did not say when the trial should start — only that it should not begin “until the prejudicial press coverage abates.”

“President Trump’s constitutional right to a fair trial is at stake,” defense attorney Todd Blanche said. “Many of the potential jurors already wrongfully believe that President Trump is guilty.”

Jury selection for the trial is currently scheduled to get underway April 15 in New York City.

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