April 16, 2024

Judge Delivers Another Decision in Trump, Stormy Daniels Case

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OPINION: This article could comprise commentary which displays the writer’s opinion.


Justice Juan M. Merchan of the New York Supreme Court has prolonged his gag order, which forbids former President Donald Trump from disparaging witnesses, prosecutors, or court docket workers in the felony trial involving “hush money,” to incorporate his personal and District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s households.

Trump has made a number of remarks about Justice Merchan’s daughter in current days, labeling her a “Rabid Trump Hater” and accusing her of sharing anti-Trump photos on social media. The New York Times noted that the gag order was prolonged at Bragg’s request.

“The average observer, must now, after hearing Defendant’s recent attacks, draw the conclusion that if they become involved in these proceedings, even tangentially, they should worry not only for themselves, but for their loved ones as well,” wrote Merchan. “Such concerns will undoubtedly interfere with the fair administration of justice and constitutes a direct attack on the Rule of Law itself.”

He continued, “Again, all citizens, called upon to participate in these proceedings, whether as a juror, a witness, or in some other capacity, must now concern themselves not only with their own personal safety, but with the safety and the potential for personal attacks upon their loved ones. That reality cannot be overstated.”

Last week, Judge Merchan rejected the protection’s request to postpone the Manhattan trial till the summer time and set the beginning date for April 15.

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This choice echoes a gag order in Trump’s felony case about election interference in Washington, D.C.

“Given that the eve of trial is upon us, it is without question that the imminency of the risk of harm is now paramount,” Merchan wrote in a four-page choice granting the prosecution’s request for what it deemed a “narrowly tailored” gag order.

“The judge said the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s statements have induced fear and necessitated added security measures to protect his targets and investigate threats. Trump’s lawyers fought a gag order, warning it would amount to an unconstitutional and unlawful prior restraint on his free speech rights. Merchan, who had long resisted imposing a gag order, said his obligation to ensure the integrity of the trial outweighed First Amendment concerns,” the Associated Press reported.

In a court docket submitting, Trump legal professionals Todd Blanche and Susan Necheles stated: “President Trump’s political opponents have, and will continue to, attack him based on this case. The voters have the right to listen to President Trump’s unfettered responses to those attacks — not just one side of that debate.”

The gag order forbids Trump from talking publicly about potential witnesses and jurors in the hush-money case or from ordering others to take action.

It additionally forbids making any remarks supposed to intimidate or trigger misery to the prosecution group, court docket workers, or their households.

It doesn’t prohibit remarks about elected Democrat Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg or Merchan, whom Trump known as “a Trump-hating judge” with a household filled with “Trump haters” following his arraignment final yr.

However, it serves as a warning to Trump that disparaging remarks about important gamers in the case, similar to Stormy Daniels, the porn star, or Michael Cohen, his erstwhile legal professional turned adversary, is not going to be accepted.

Trump may be imprisoned, fined, and even held in contempt of court docket for a violation.

Cohen, Trump’s former “fixer” who will function a key prosecution witness in opposition to Trump, launched a press release saying, “I want to thank Judge Merchan for imposing the gag order as I have been under relentless assault from Donald’s MAGA supporters. Nevertheless, knowing Donald as well as I do, he will seek to defy the gag order by employing others within his circle to do his bidding, regardless of consequence.”

The gag order strengthens already-existing limitations that forbid Trump from disparaging witnesses in the case utilizing proof.

The allegations on the coronary heart of Trump’s hush-money case are that he misrepresented funds to Cohen—who was then his private legal professional—as authorized charges on the books of his enterprise, regardless that they had been truly for Cohen’s help in disguising unfavorable tales about him in the course of the 2016 marketing campaign.

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Among them was the $130,000 he had given Daniels on Trump’s behalf to maintain her quiet about her alleged earlier sexual encounter with him.

In April of final yr, Trump entered a not-guilty plea to 34 counts of falsifying enterprise data, a felony that carries a most four-year jail sentence. However, a conviction doesn’t be certain that Trump will serve any time behind bars.

He denies ever having intercourse with Daniels, and in line with his attorneys, Cohen’s funds had been simply affordable authorized charges and had nothing to do with any type of cover-up.

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