Judge Expands Donald Trump Gag Order After Attacks On His Family

"Defendant knows what he is doing, and everyone else does too," Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg wrote in a filing.

A Manhattan judge expanded the limited gag order imposed on former President Donald Trump over his upcoming hush money trial after a series of attacks on the judge and his family.

Judge Juan Merchan barred the former president from going after his family members or those of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, saying Trump’s efforts served “no legitimate purpose.”

“It merely injects fear in those assigned or called to participate in the proceedings, that not only they, but their family members as well, are ‘fair game’ for Defendant’s vitriol,” Merchan wrote on Monday. “It is no longer just a mere possibility or a reasonable likelihood that there exists a threat to the integrity of the judicial proceedings. The threat is very real.”

His previous order blocked Trump from disparaging or making public comments about witnesses, prosecutors, court staff or jurors. But the judge pointed to Trump’s comments in recent days and said the court could not rely on the former president to modulate his behavior during the proceedings without explicit instructions.

“Admonitions are not enough, nor is the reliance on self-restraint,” Merchan added. “The average observer, must now, after hearing defendant’s recent attacks, draw the conclusion that if they become involved in these proceedings, even tangentially, they should worry not only for themselves, but for their loved ones as well.”

The judge declared that those concerns would “undoubtedly” interfere with the fair administration of justice in the Manhattan criminal case.

Former President Donald Trump faces an expanded gag order in the Manhattan hush money case that's set to go to trial on April 15.
Former President Donald Trump faces an expanded gag order in the Manhattan hush money case that's set to go to trial on April 15.
Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Bragg’s office on Monday asked Merchan to expand the order after Trump took aim at the judge’s daughter, spreading false claims about her on social media.

“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,” the district attorney wrote in a court filing.

“[Trump] knows what he is doing, and everyone else does too.”

The former president assailed Merchan after the judge imposed the order last week, claiming Merchan was attempting to deny the former president his “First Amendment Right to speak out against he Weaponization of Law Enforcement.” Trump claimed that Merchan’s daughter, Loren, had used an image of him behind bars as her profile picture on the social media platform X.

But that wasn’t true. The account once belonged to the judge’s daughter, but she deleted the handle about a year ago. It has since been taken over by someone else. A spokesperson for New York’s state court was forced to clarify that she was not linked to the account in any way.

“So, let me get this straight, the Judge’s daughter is allowed to post pictures of her ‘dream’ of putting me in jail, the Manhattan D.A. is able to say whatever lies about me he wants, the Judge can violate our Laws and Constitution at every turn, but I am not allowed to talk about the attacks against me,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform.

Loren Merchan is a Democratic political consultant.

Trump had been subject to a gag order during his civil fraud trial in New York. He was fined twice for violating the restrictions, and the judge overseeing the case warned the former president to refrain from doing so again or face even “worse” penalties.

Trump’s hush money trial is set to begin on April 15. It centers on payments made before the 2016 presidential election to quash accusations of extramarital affairs. The payments included a reported $130,000 to adult film star Stormy Daniels less than a month before Election Day.


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