New York Judge Lifts Parts Of Trump Gag Order, Allowing Him To Comment On Jury And Witnesses

The New York judge overseeing former President Donald Trump's "hush money" prosecution partially lifted a gag order that limited what he could say about those involved in the case.

Tuesday, June 25th 2024, 1:01 pm

By: CBS News


The New York judge overseeing former President Donald Trump's "hush money" prosecution partially lifted a gag order that limited what he could say about those involved in the case, saying Trump can now speak about witnesses and the jury, as long as he doesn't reveal jurors' identities.

The decision by Justice Juan Merchan leaves in place restrictions limiting Trump's ability to comment on prosecutors, court staff and their families. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's office did not object to lifting the limits on comments about witnesses, but urged Merchan to keep the other portions of the order in place, including restrictions on commenting on the jury at least through sentencing on July 11.

Merchan wrote that it was his "strong preference" to protect jurors from further public comment by Trump, but can no longer bar him from talking about them generally now that the trial is over. However, he left in place a provision preventing disclosure of personal information about them, including their identities.

"[T]here is ample evidence to justify continued concern for the jurors," Merchan wrote. 

Under the gag order, Trump has been able to criticize Merchan and Bragg themselves, but cannot target others who work for them or their families. Merchan justified maintaining those protections until sentencing, writing that they "must continue to perform their lawful duties free from threats, intimidation, harassment, and harm."

A spokesperson for Trump's presidential campaign criticized the order, saying the portions left in place are "unconstitutional."

"This is another unlawful decision by a highly conflicted judge, which is blatantly un-American as it gags President Trump, the leading candidate in the 2024 Presidential Election during the upcoming Presidential Debate on Thursday," said the spokesperson, Steven Cheung, who added that Trump will continue to challenge the order.

New York's highest court dismissed an appeal of the gag order on June 18, finding in a brief ruling "that no substantial constitutional question is directly involved."

Prosecutors for Bragg argued in a June 20 filing that they had continued safety concerns for jurors, saying that Trump's supporters "have attempted to identify jurors and threatened violence against them."

Since Merchan imposed the original gag order on March 26, Trump has violated it 10 times. Those violations have included statements made during interviews and on social media about both witnesses and the jury.

Trump was convicted on May 30 of 34 counts of falsifying business records related to a scheme to cover up reimbursements for a "hush money" payment to an adult film star before the 2016 election. He continues to deny all wrongdoing.

Trump is scheduled to be sentenced in the case on July 11.

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