April 21, 2024
Money

Trump’s gag order is expanded to stop attacks on family of judge in hush money case after former president called his daughter a ‘rabid Trump hater’



By Reuters and James Gordon For Dailymail.com

01:56 02 Apr 2024, updated 02:57 02 Apr 2024

  • A court has ordered Trump to cease verbal attacks on Judge Juan Merchan’s family ahead of his hush money payments trial 
  • Prosecutors argued to extend the gag order to cover the judge’s family members after Trump’s disparaging remarks about the judge’s daughter
  • Trumps defense claims the posts don’t violate gag order and have asserted Trump’s right to speak out ahead of his April 15 trial in New York 



Donald Trump must stop verbal attacks on family members of the New York judge and others in his upcoming trial on charges stemming from a hush money payment to a porn star, the court ruled on Monday, after the former U.S. president disparaged the judge’s daughter.

New York prosecutors argued how Trump is trying to scare potential witnesses and urged Justice Juan Merchan to make clear that his existing gag order, which bars Trump from publicly commenting about witnesses and court staff, also applies to family members.

They were responding to a March 28 social media post by Trump, who called Merchan’s daughter a ‘Rabid Trump Hater’ in a social media post and called for Merchan to be removed from the case.

‘This issue is not complicated. Family members of trial participants must be strictly off-limits,’ prosecutor Matthew Colangelo wrote. 

‘Defendant’s insistence to the contrary bespeaks a dangerous sense of entitlement to instigate fear and even physical harm to the loved ones of those he sees in the courtroom,’ Colangelo added, who was himself the target of a Trump online attack last week. 

The judge in Donald Trump’s hush-money criminal case on Monday declared his daughter off-limits to the former president’s rancor, expanding a gag order days after Trump assailed and made false claims about her on social media
Trump’s gag order has now been expanded to cover the daughter of Judge Juan Merchan, Loren, seen right, who is a Democratic political consultant

Merchan’s daughter runs a digital marketing agency called Authentic Campaigns, which works with Democratic candidates and non-profits.

Trump’s lawyers have argued that her work poses a conflict of interest and have unsuccessfully sought to oust Merchan from the case.

Trump claimed that Merchan’s daughter, Democratic political consultant Loren Merchan, whose firm has worked on campaigns for President Joe Biden and other Democrats, had recently posted a photo on social media depicting her ‘obvious goal’ of seeing him jailed.  

It was later revealed the account on X, ‘is not linked to her email address, nor has she posted under that screenname since she deleted the account. Rather, it represents the reconstitution, last April, and manipulation of an account she long ago abandoned.’ 

Trump’s three-part Truth Social post to his 7 million followers last week, was his first reaction to the gag order. 

His focus on Merchan’s daughter echoed his lawyers’ arguments last year when they urged the judge to exit the case.

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump attends a campaign rally in February
In a recent interview, Merchan said: ‘There’s no agenda here. We want to follow the law. We want justice to be done.’
DA Alvin Bragg successfully pushed for the judge’s gag order on Trump to be expanded

The judge had also made several small donations totaling $35 to Democratic causes during the 2020 campaign, including $15 to Biden. 

Merchan said then that a state court ethics panel found that Loren Merchan’s work had no bearing on his impartiality. 

Loren is president of a Chicago-based political consulting firm, Authentic Campaigns, whose top clients include Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who was lead prosecutor in the Republican’s first impeachment trial. 

The judge said in a ruling last September that he was certain of his ‘ability to be fair and impartial’ and that Trump’s lawyers had ‘failed to demonstrate that there exists concrete, or even realistic reasons for recusal to be appropriate, much less required on these grounds.’ 

Trump has repeatedly gone after Merchan’s daughter and demanded Merchan recuse himself from the case. 

In a recent interview, Merchan said: ‘There’s no agenda here. We want to follow the law. We want justice to be done.’ 

The expanding of the gag order came after Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg asked a New York judge to consider his request.

‘Defendant’s dangerous, violent, and reprehensible rhetoric fundamentally threatens the integrity of these proceedings and is intended to intimidate witnesses and trial participants alike— including this Court,’ wrote Bragg in a new filing on Monday that made a reference to the attack on Merchan’s daughter.

The ‘supplemental filing’ also asks Judge Merchan to warn Trump ‘that his recent conduct is contumacious and direct that defendant immediately desist from attacks on family members.’

‘To the extent that the original March 26 Order did not already prohibit this behavior, this Court can and should clarify or extend the Order to protect family members of the Court on the record described below, and should warn defendant that any future disregard of the Order will result in sanctions under Judiciary Law,’ he wrote.

That came after a former federal judge said Trump should be jailed for his violations, and called for him to ‘bring his toothbrush.’

Trump kept up the attacks over the weekend, attacking Merchan’s daughter by name and calling her a ‘Rabid Trump Hater, who has admitted to having conversations with her father about me.’

The filing calls Trump ‘totally incapable of self-regulating,’ and cites past posts about ‘death and destruction.’

Trump has blasted the gag order and says it violates his First Amendment rights, prompting Bragg to respond there is ‘no constitutional right to target the family of this court.’

Bragg also criticises Trump for posting an image of Loren Merchan, and says attacks are based on ‘transparent falsehoods.’

Trump’s defense lawyers said Trump’s posts did not violate the gag order and were not meant to interfere with the proceedings or cause any harm.

They have suggested that Trump is well within his constitutional rights to criticize  the judge’s family as he wishes. 

‘President Trump must be permitted to speak on these issues in a manner that is consistent with his position as the leading presidential candidate,’ his lawyer Todd Blanche wrote.

New York prosecutors argued that Trump is trying to scare potential witnesses and urged Justice Juan Merchan, pictured, to make clear that his existing gag order, which bars Trump from publicly commenting about witnesses and court staff, also applies to his family members
The clash comes weeks before the Stormy Daniels ‘hush’ money case is set to start on April 15

Trump is set to go on trial starting April 15 in New York state court in Manhattan on criminal charges of covering up a $130,000 payment before the 2016 election to porn star Stormy Daniels to buy her silence about an alleged sexual encounter.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records and denies an encounter with Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.

Trump could face fines or jail time if he violates Merchan’s gag order, which does not bar him from criticizing the judge or Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, whose office brought the charges last year.

The case is one of four criminal indictments Trump faces as he prepares to challenge Biden in the Nov. 5 election. 

He has pleaded not guilty in the other three cases, which stem from efforts to overturn his 2020 loss to Biden and his handling of sensitive government documents after leaving office in 2021.

Trump faces a similar gag order in his Washington, D.C. criminal case over his efforts to reverse the 2020 election results.



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