Trump appeals the gag order in the 'hush money' trial in New York

Former President Donald Trump wants New York's highest court to intervene in his fight over a silence order that fined him $10,000 and threatened him with jail time for violating a ban on commenting on witnesses, jurors and others associated with him. hush money criminal trial.

The former president's lawyers filed an appeal on Wednesday, a day after the state's mid-court hearing refused his request to remove or change the restrictions. The file was on a docket at the court, but the document itself was sealed and unavailable.

Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said it is a request for the state Court of Appeals to hear the case.

“President Trump has filed a notice to appeal the unconstitutional and un-American silence order imposed by conflicted Judge Juan Merchan in the lawless Manhattan DA case,” Cheung said in a statement.

“The threat to throw the 45th President of the United States and the leading candidate in the 2024 presidential election into prison for exercising his First Amendment rights is a Third World authoritarian tactic endemic to Crooked Joe Biden and his comrades,” Cheung said.

A five-judge panel of the state's mid-level appellate court, the Appellate Division, ruled Tuesday that Merchan “correctly determined” that Trump's public statements “posed a significant threat to the integrity of the testimony of witnesses and potential witnesses'. also in this case.”

“We find that Judge Merchan properly balanced petitioner's First Amendment rights with the court's historic commitment to ensuring due process in criminal cases, and the rights of persons related or tangentially connected with the criminal procedure to be free from threats, intimidation and intimidation. and damage,” the ruling said.

Koopman has held Trump in contempt of court for violating the order ten times, with a $1,000 fine for each violation. Last week, he warned Trump he could be sent to prison for future violations.

Former President Donald Trump's Hush Money trial continues in New York
Former President Donald Trump speaks to the media with attorney Todd Blanche at the end of the day's proceedings at Manhattan Criminal Court on May 14, 2024 in New York City.

Craig Ruttle/Getty Images


The latest violation involved comments Trump made about the political composition of the jury. In a May 6 written order, Merchan said Trump's comments “not only called into question the integrity and therefore legitimacy of these proceedings, but once again raised the specter of fear for the safety of the jurors and their loved ones.”

Trump had asked the state's interim appeals court to lift or modify the silence order. Among other things, it prohibits him from making statements or directing others to make statements about witnesses such as his fixer-turned-enemy Michael Cohen, who will testify for a third day on Thursday. It also bans comments about court personnel, the judge's family and prosecutors other than Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

Bragg's office declined comment. A message seeking comment was left with a spokesperson for the state court system.

“The gag order must be lifted,” Trump told reporters on Tuesday as he entered the courtroom. He later complained, “As you know, I have a gag order, so I can't answer the simple questions you ask me.”

Among the violations were Trump's several attacks on Cohen, including an April 13 social media post that asked: “Has disgraced lawyer and criminal Michael Cohen been prosecuted for LYING? Only TRUMP people are prosecuted by this judge and these criminals!”

Merchan also flagged reposts Trump made of a New York Post article that described Cohen as a “serious perjurer,” and a Trump post that quoted Fox News host Jesse Watters' claim that liberal activists lied to win the jury to infiltrate.

Merchan's prison warning came after he ruled that Trump had violated the gag order for the final time when, in an April 22 interview with television channel Real America's Voice, he criticized the speed at which the jury was selected and claimed, without evidence, that it was stacked. with Democrats.

Merchan issued the silence order on March 26 after prosecutors raised concerns about Trump's tendency to attack people involved in his business. He expanded it on April 1 to ban comments about his own family after Trump lashed out on social media at the judge's daughter, a Democratic political consultant, and made false claims about her.

Trump appealed the silence order on April 8, just days before the start of jury selection. During an emergency hearing before a single Appellate Division judge, Trump's lawyers argued that the order was an unconstitutional restriction on the Republican presidential candidate's free speech rights as he campaigns and fights criminal charges.

Specifically, according to the court papers, Trump has challenged restrictions on his ability to comment on Matthew Colangelo, a former Justice Department official who is part of the prosecution team, and Merchan's daughter, whose company has worked for Trump's rival, President Joe Biden, and other Democrats.

In its ruling Tuesday, the Appellate Division noted that Trump did not allege the silence order violated his right to a fair trial. Trump's lawyers previously argued that the ban on comments on Colangelo and Loren Merchan limited his ability to engage in protected political speech and could negatively impact his campaign.

The appeals court ruled that Judge Merchan “properly balanced” Trump's free speech rights against Trump's “historic commitment to ensuring due process in criminal cases, and the rights of individuals related or tangentially connected to the criminal proceedings in order to be free from threats,' harassment, intimidation and harm.”

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