Trump Now Free to Go to Town on Jury in Hush-Money Case


Photo: Doug Mills/POOL/AFP/Getty Images

Throughout his hush-money trial, Donald Trump constantly tested the boundaries of the gag order imposed on him, complaining about the restrictions it placed on his speech and racking up $10,000 in fines for violating it. But, as he awaits his sentencing next month, Trump will soon have more targets for his social-media-based ire.

On Tuesday, Judge Juan Merchan loosened the gag order’s conditions, allowing Trump to publicly comment on the witnesses that testified in the trial as well as members of the jury. However, under the revised order, Trump is still barred from commenting on court staffers and employees in the Manhattan district attorney’s office and their families.

In his ruling, Merchan said the restrictions had been put in place to “protect the integrity of the judicial proceedings,” but acknowledged that the circumstances have changed since the jury handed down its verdict last month. Trump was convicted of 34 felony counts of falsifying business records and is set to be sentenced on July 11.

Under the new ruling, Trump will be able to speak about the trial’s key witnesses, including his former attorney Michael Cohen and adult-film star Stormy Daniels, two people he has frequently railed against on TruthSocial. There will be some limits: Trump will not be allowed to identify individual jurors or disclose any information about them. Ahead of jury selection, Merchan ordered that the names and addresses of the jurors be kept secret during the length of the trial.

Merchan put the initial gag order in place a few weeks ahead of the trial’s April 15 start. At the time, the judge cited Trump’s history of “threatening, inflammatory, denigrating” rhetoric aimed toward the people involved in his legal cases. After Trump was convicted in May, his legal team filed a motion to remove the order as they await sentencing. But Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg requested that the order remain in place, citing an uptick in threats against him and others in his office.

Cohen, who was the subject of several of the social-media posts that got Trump fined, commented on the loosened gag order in a statement to CNN. “For the past six years, Donald and acolytes have been making constant negative statements about me. Donald’s failed strategy of discrediting me so that he can avoid accountability didn’t work then and won’t work now,” Cohen said.

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