Trump Asks Judge To Lift Gag Order After Hush Money Conviction

Trump gag order case

On Tuesday, Donald Trump asked the judge who oversaw his criminal trial on charges related to hush money paid to a porn star to lift a gag order on the case. The former U.S. president was convicted last week.

Before the trial began in April, Justice Juan Merchan restricted Trump’s public statements about jurors, witnesses, and others involved in the case. Prosecutors argued that Trump’s history of making threatening statements could derail proceedings unless the judge acted.

“Now that the trial is concluded, the concerns articulated by the government and the Court do not justify continued restrictions on the First Amendment rights of President Trump,” defense lawyer Todd Blanche wrote in a letter dated June 3 and made public on Tuesday.

Last week, a Manhattan jury found Trump guilty on all 34 counts of falsifying business records to cover up a $130,000 payment his former lawyer Michael Cohen made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election for her silence about a sexual encounter she claimed they had.

Trump, the Republican candidate in the 2024 election, denies having sex with Daniels and vowed to appeal the conviction. He often called the gag order an unconstitutional violation of his right to free speech.

A spokesperson for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, whose office brought the case, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Fines for defying order

During the trial, Merchan fined Trump $1,000 for each of 10 violations of the gag order. Those included a social media post where he called Cohen a “serial liar” and an interview in which he said, “that jury was picked so fast – 95% Democrats.”

On Monday, an Oregon jury found the verdict, and the company continues to pursue a proposed $6.48 billion settlement of most talc-related lawsuits through a pre-packaged bankruptcy.

On May 6, the judge threatened to jail Trump for any future violation.

In the letter, Blanche argued that Democratic President Joe Biden, Trump’s opponent in the November election, had commented publicly about the verdict and that the two men were slated to debate on June 27. He also noted that Cohen and Daniels continued to attack Trump in public.

The order does not limit Trump’s comments about the case in general. In an April 30 ruling, Merchan said witnesses who publicly criticize Trump likely do not need protection by the gag order. On May 6, he rejected two of prosecutors’ requests to fine Trump over comments about Cohen.