NY court upholds gag order in hush money trial after Trump appeal is rejected

On Tuesday, a New York court denied former President Donald Trump’s bid to lift the gag order limiting what he can say about those involved in his ongoing criminal trial, saying the order does not violate Trump’s First Amendment rights. Justice Juan Merchan, the judge overseeing Trump’s trial on 34 counts of falsifying business records, issued the original order in March, barring Trump from discussing likely witnesses, jurors, attorneys and court staff involved in the case. Merchan later expanded it to apply to his daughter.

In a five-page ruling on Tuesday, the appellate division, first department of the New York Supreme Court, found that Merchan “properly determined that [Trump’s] public statements posed a significant threat to the integrity of the testimony of witnesses and potential witnesses in this case.”  The ruling added (per CNN): “we find that Justice Merchan properly weighed petitioner’s First Amendment Rights against the court’s historical commitment to ensuring the fair administration of justice in criminal cases, and the right of persons related or tangentially related to the criminal proceedings from being free from threats, intimidation, harassment, and harm.”

Trump has repeatedly stated that the gag order implemented by Merchan is unfair to him and should be lifted, especially since it means he is unable to respond to testimony from Stormy Daniels or Michael Cohen in public spheres.  However, Merchan has stated that the gag order is needed to prevent witnesses from being intimidated, especially given the high-profile nature of the trial and defendant. Trump was not prevented from criticizing Merchan or Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Merchan has held Trump in contempt of court for violating the order 10 times; and just last wee, he warned Trump that he could be sent to jail for future violations.

Editorial credit: Potashev Aleksandr / Shutterstock.com

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