Trump wants gag order lifted after hush-money probe verdict

image source, Good pictures

  • author, Max Matza
  • stock, BBC News

Attorneys for former US President Donald Trump have asked the judge overseeing his hush-money case in New York to lift his gag order after his trial ended.

In a letter to Judge Juan Merchon on Monday, they argued that the court’s concerns “do not justify continued restrictions” on Trump’s free speech.

A prosecutor in the historic case — in which Trump was found guilty of falsifying 34 business records — is pressing the judge to keep the order “at least through a sentencing hearing.”

The gag order was issued on March 26, barring Trump from speaking publicly about witnesses, judges, lawyers, court employees and their family members.

He is free to talk about Judge Merchan and District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

Trump attorneys Todd Blanche and Emil Bowe wrote in their letter that Trump should enjoy “unfettered campaign advocacy.”

They said her case “got even stronger” after her political opponent, US President Joe Biden, spoke publicly about the case.

They added that Trump is currently unable to defend himself against “constant public attacks” from prosecution witnesses such as his former lawyer Michael Cohen and adult film actress Stormi Daniels.

The letter also cited Trump’s participation in the first presidential debate against Mr. Biden, scheduled for June 27.

Trump will be sentenced by Judge Merchan on July 11, four days before he is officially declared the Republican presidential nominee.

In its letter, the Manhattan district attorney’s office said the order was not imposed solely “to avoid threats to the integrity of the trial,” but to “protect the integrity of the proceedings and the fair administration of justice.” That would extend to sentencing and “the resolution of any post-trial motions.”

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It added that it would submit a lengthy written response once Trump files a formal motion to lift the gag order.

Trump’s team made multiple requests to remove it throughout the trial, but those were denied by the judge.

Judge Merchan fined Trump $10,000 (£7,800) during the trial.

“The last thing I want to consider is prison,” Judge Merchan told the court. “You [the] A former president and perhaps the next president.”

“Your continued willful violation of the court’s order…constitutes direct assault…and cannot be allowed to continue,” he said.

The order still allows Trump to criticize District Attorney Alvin Bragg and Judge Merson, who prosecuted Trump.

Prosecutors argued the gag order was needed “to preserve the integrity of this criminal proceeding and avoid prejudice to the jury.”

On Friday, Trump told reporters that he believed the gag order should have expired at the end of the trial and that his lawyers would clarify to Judge Merson.

“I’m under a gag order, a bad gag order,” he said at Trump Tower after the verdict.

Referring to Cohen, the prosecution’s star witness, he said: “I’m not allowed to use his name because of the gag order.”

On Friday, Mr Biden referred to Mr Trump as a “convicted criminal”, telling reporters at the White House that “it really drives him crazy”.

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