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Judge partially lifts gag order in Donald Trump secret money case

Judge partially lifts gag order in Donald Trump secret money case

Judge partially lifts gag order in Donald Trump secret money case

The judge presiding over Donald Trump’s hush money trial ended parts of a gag order imposed on the former president, allowing him to speak about witnesses and jurors but shielding others involved in the case until his sentencing next month.

Judge Juan Merchán’s decision comes less than a month after jurors found Trump guilty of all 34 counts of falsifying business records to cover up a hush money scheme involving an adult film actress before of the 2016 presidential elections.

In a five-page ruling Tuesday, Merchan acknowledged that “circumstances have now changed,” with the trial over and the jury dismissed. He said he reluctantly lifted the part of the gag order that applied to jurors and kept in place a March order requiring their identities to remain private.

The gag order still applies to lawyers and prosecutors other than Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D); court staff and Bragg staff; and relatives of any of those people.

“Until sentencing is imposed,” Merchan wrote, those individuals “must continue to perform their legal duties free from threats, intimidation, harassment, and harm.”

A Trump campaign spokesperson criticized Merchan’s ruling for not completely ending the gag order.

“This is another illegal decision by a highly contentious judge, who is blatantly un-American as he muzzles President Trump, the front-runner in the 2024 presidential election, during Thursday’s upcoming presidential debate,” spokesman Steven Cheung said in a statement. . “President Trump and his legal team will immediately challenge today’s unconstitutional order.”

Trump will debate President Biden on CNN on Thursday, in their first debate of the 2024 election.

Trump’s sentencing is scheduled for July 11, four days before the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee. Each charge carries a prison sentence of up to four years, although Trump is likely to serve less or no sentence.

Trump has long fought the gag order, publicly criticizing it as an infringement on his First Amendment rights and racking up thousands of dollars in fines for violating it. Trump has been especially critical over the years of two people who were high-profile witnesses in the trial: the adult film actress at the center of her hush money scheme, Stormy Daniels, and the former attorney by Trump, Michael Cohen.

Days after the May 30 verdict, Trump’s lawyers attempted to lift the gag order entirely, which prosecutors opposed. Last week, the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, refused to consider Trump’s appeal of the gag order.

In Tuesday’s decision, Merchan expressed lingering concerns about the jurors, saying there is “ample evidence to justify continued concern” about them. The March order he previously issued prohibits public disclosure of jurors’ identities and only allowed the parties and their attorneys access to them.