NY Judge Partially Lifts Trump Gag Order, Sets Timeline for Expiration

A New York judge partially lifted a gag order on former President Donald Trump on Tuesday following the Republican presidential candidate's conviction on criminal charges in the falsification of business records case.

New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan terminated parts of former President Donald Trump’s gag order on June 25, adding that the rest will expire once sentencing is complete.

The judge broke the original gag order down into three categories: statements about witnesses; statements about court staff and counsel, and later extended it to include family members of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and Justice Merchan, but not the judge and district attorney themselves; and statements about jurors.

“Circumstances have now changed. The trial portion of these proceedings ended when the verdict was rendered, and the jury discharged,” Judge Merchan wrote. He terminated the order as it applies to witnesses and jurors.

Jurors were told, after they delivered the verdict on May 30, that they were no longer under orders to not discuss the case, and were free to speak about it as they wished.

Judge Merchan added that it was his “strong preference” to extend the order as it applied to jurors but ruled that the appellate court decision had upheld the original gag order, which applied to the trial, and therefore the order “must be terminated.”

Prosecutors had also agreed with the defense and argued that the gag order no longer needed to cover trial witnesses, but they opposed lifting the order as it pertains to jurors.

The judge clarified in his order that his March 7 protective order barring parties from releasing the identities of individual jurors “will remain in effect until further order of this Court.”

The judge left intact the second of the three provisions on the reasoning that “the proceedings are not concluded.”

The judge ruled court staff and counsel “must continue to perform their lawful duties free from threats, intimidation, harassment, and harm,” and so the order would remain “in effect until the imposition of the sentence.”

Attorneys for former President Trump had appealed the gag order in the appellate division of the mid-level New York Supreme Court, and later the New York Court of Appeals, which is the state’s top court. The gag order was upheld in full both times.

Trump Statements

Former President Trump had made several statements about those involved in the case leading up to and through the first week of the trial, resulting in fines totaling $10,000 for 10 gag order violations.

Prosecutors and the judge said that there had been additional violations, but sanctions were not requested on all statements.

The fined statements included comments about witnesses Michael Cohen and Stephanie Clifford, and echoed a Fox News host’s claim that some jurors were “undercover liberal activists.”

The judge had deemed former President Trump’s interview answer that witness David Pecker was “a nice guy” not a gag order violation. Former President Trump was also not sanctioned for statements mentioning prosecutor Matthew Colangelo, who had worked in the Justice Department before joining the district attorney’s office. Former President Trump frequently alleged the case against him was politically motivated or done at the behest of his main political rival President Joe Biden, and claimed Mr. Colangelo was evidence of a tie between the federal and state agencies.

Former President Trump also stated on social media that Justice Merchan’s daughter headed a marketing firm that has received millions from his political rivals. His attorneys had filed a motion for recusal of the judge on the basis that his daughter’s clients were fundraising off the case over which he presided.

The judge rejected the motion, and former President Trump’s statements led to an expansion of the gag order to prohibit statements about the judge and district attorney’s families.

From The Epoch Times