Judge Partially Removes Gag Order on Donald Trump

The judge in Donald Trump’s hush money trial last week modified the gag order he imposed on the former president before the trial to allow Trump to publicly comment about the witnesses and jurors while keeping others involved in the case off limits until after the July 11 sentencing hearing.

Judge Juan Merchan’s ruling clears the way for Trump to respond to attacks by witnesses Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels who continue to pillory the former president.

In his decision, Judge Merchan wrote that his gag order was aimed at protecting “the integrity of the judicial proceedings” but now that the trial was over and the jurors discharged, those protections no longer apply.

Merchan said that while it was his “strong preference” to continue to prevent Trump from publicly commenting on the jury, he could not justify doing so.

The judge kept in place a separate gag order that prohibits Trump and his legal team from disclosing the jurors’ identities or addresses. However, lead defense attorney Todd Blanche informed the court that after the verdict in late May, the defense destroyed that information.

At the same time, Merchan wrote in his ruling that there was “ample evidence” justifying “continued concern” for the members of the jury.

Merchan’s gag order preventing Trump from commenting on court staff, the prosecutors, and their families will remain in place until after Trump’s sentencing. The judge explained that these parties are continuing to “perform their lawful duties” and must be able to do without “threats, intimidation, harassment, and harm.”

The judge’s gag order never included himself or Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

While the judge’s June 25 decision was a win for the former president, Trump campaign spokesman Steve Cheung still found reason to attack Merchan’s ruling, describing it as “another unlawful decision by a highly conflicted judge.”

Cheung said Trump’s attorneys would challenge the order, falsely claiming that the gag order prevented Trump from “speaking about the judge.”