NY v Trump: Judge Merchan partially lifts gag order on former president

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NY v Trump: Judge Merchan partially lifts gag order on former president

Judge Juan Merchan has partially lifted the gag order he imposed against former President Trump – weeks after the jury found him guilty on all counts.

Trump and his legal team have been fighting the gag order since it was imposed upon him at the start of the trial, but had ramped up their efforts when it concluded last month. The former president and presumptive Republican nominee’s legal team had argued the gag order should be lifted before the June 27 presidential debate.

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Merchan’s gag order barred Trump from making or directing others to make public statements about witnesses with regard to their potential participation or about counsel in the case – other than Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg – or about court staff, DA staff or family members of staff.

Merchan on Tuesday partially lifted the gag order because the trial has concluded.

Trump is now able to speak about protected witnesses and jurors.

Justice Juan Merchan instructs the jury before deliberations as former President Trump looks on during his criminal trial on May 29, 2024, in this courtroom sketch. (Reuters/Jane Rosenberg)

Trump is still blocked from commenting about individual prosecutors, court staff and their family members. That portion of the gag order will remain in effect until Trump’s sentencing on July 11.

In his order reviewed by Fox News Tuesday, Merchan said the basis for the issuance of the gag order in the first place was “to protect the integrity of the judicial proceedings.” 

“The trial portion of these proceedings ended when the verdict was rendered, and the jury discharged,” Merchan wrote, noting that Trump had appealed the order, and had been rejected.

Merchan noted that while it is the court’s “strong preference to extend those protections, the Court cannot do so on what is now a different record than what the appellate courts relied upon when they rendered their rulings.” 

Merchan, Trump

Judge Juan Merchan imposed a gag order over former President Trump before the trial began. He was fined $10,000 for violating that order. (Getty Images)

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The gag order, in its totality, will be terminated after “the imposition of sentence.” 

Merchan’s lifting of the gag order comes just days after the New York Court of Appeals rejected Trump’s bid to have the gag order against him lifted, citing that “no substantial constitutional question is directly involved.” 

The former president and presumptive Republican presidential nominee was found guilty on all 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree last month. The six-week trial stemmed from charges brought by Bragg. 

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Trump and his defense attorneys have maintained that he should not be bound by the gag order, saying it violates his First Amendment rights as well as the First Amendment rights of his supporters. 

Steven Cheung, Trump campaign spokesperson, said in a statement Tuesday, “Today’s order by Acting Justice Merchan leaves in place portions of the unconstitutional Gag Order, preventing President Trump from speaking freely about Judge Merchan’s disqualifying conflicts and the overwhelming evidence exposing this whole Crooked Joe Biden – directed Witch Hunt.”

“This is another unlawful decision by a highly conflicted judge, which is blatantly un-American as it gags President Trump, the leading candidate in the 2024 Presidential Election during the upcoming Presidential Debate on Thursday. President Trump and his legal team will immediately challenge today’s unconstitutional order.”

Trump’s sentencing date is set for July 11 – just four days before the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, where he is expected to be formally nominated as the 2024 Republican presidential nominee. 

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