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Trump appeals silence order in New York ‘hush money’ trial

Former President Donald Trump is seeking to get New York’s highest court to intervene in his fight against a silence order that landed him a $10,000 fine and the threat of prison for violating a ban on commenting on witnesses, jurors and others connected with his silence, criminal trial of money.

The former president’s lawyers filed a notice of appeal Wednesday, a day after the ruling by the state’s mid-level appeals court. refused his request to lift or modify the restrictions. The file was placed on the court docket, but the document itself was sealed and unavailable.

Trump presidential campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said it was a request for the state Court of Appeals to take up the case.

“President Trump has filed a notice to appeal the unconstitutional and un-American silencing order imposed by confrontational Judge Juan Merchan in the lawless Manhattan DA case,” Cheung said in a statement.

“Threatening to jail the 45th President of the United States and leading candidate in the 2024 presidential election for exercising his First Amendment rights is a third-world authoritarian tactic typical of Twisted Joe Biden and his comrades,” Cheung said.

A five-judge panel of the mid-level appeals court, the state trial court’s appellate division, ruled Tuesday that Merchan “properly determined” that Trump’s public statements “constituted a threat important for the integrity of testimony and potential witnesses. in this case too.”

“We believe that Judge Merchan correctly weighed the petitioner’s First Amendment rights against the court’s historic commitment to ensuring the fair administration of justice in criminal cases, and the rights of those connected or indirectly connected with the criminal proceedings to be free from threats, intimidation, harassment, and harm,” the decision states.

Merchan has held Trump in contempt of court for violating the ordinance 10 times, with a $1,000 fine for each violation. Last week, he warned Trump that he could be sent to prison for future violations.

Former President Donald Trump's Hush Money trial continues in New York
Former President Donald Trump, alongside defense attorney Todd Blanche, speaks to the media at the end of the day’s proceedings in Manhattan Criminal Court, May 14, 2024, in New York.

Craig Ruttle/Getty Images


The latest violation concerned Trump’s comments about the political composition of the jury. In a May 6 written order, Merchan said Trump’s comments “not only call into question the integrity, and therefore legitimacy, of this proceeding, but again raise the specter of fear for the safety of jurors and their relatives “.

Trump had asked the state’s intermediate appeals court to lift or modify the silence order. Among other restrictions, it prohibits him from making or ordering others to make statements about witnesses like his fixer-turned-enemy Michael Cohen, who will testify for a third day on Thursday. It also prohibits comments about court staff, the judge’s family and prosecutors other than Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

Bragg’s office declined to comment. A message seeking comment was left with a spokesperson for the state court system.

“The gag order needs to be lifted,” Trump told reporters as he headed to court Tuesday. Later, he lamented: “As you know, I am under silence, so I cannot answer these very simple questions that you are asking me.”

Among the violations were Trump’s several attacks on Cohen, including an April 13 social media post asking, “Has disgraced lawyer and criminal Michael Cohen been prosecuted for LIES?” Only TRUMP people are being sued by this judge and these thugs!

Merchan also pointed out Trump’s rebroadcasts from a New York Post article describing Cohen as a “serial perjurer”, and a Trump article citing Fox News host Jesse Watters’ assertion, that liberal activists were lying to infiltrate the jury.

Merchan’s prison warning came after he ruled that Trump had violated the silence order one final time when, in an April 22 interview with the Real America’s Voice television network, he criticized the speed with which the jury was selected and claimed, without evidence, that it was stacked. with the Democrats.

Merchan imposed silence on March 26 after prosecutors raised concerns about Trump’s propensity to attack people involved in his affairs. He expanded it on April 1 to ban comments about his own family after Trump lashed out on social media at the judge’s daughter, a Democratic political consultant, and made false statements about her.

Trump appealed the silence order on April 8, just days before jury selection was set to begin. In an emergency hearing before a single judge in the Appellate Division, Trump’s lawyers argued that the order constituted an unconstitutional restriction on the Republican presidential candidate’s free speech rights while he’s campaigning and fighting criminal charges.

Specifically, according to court documents, Trump challenged restrictions on his ability to comment on Matthew Colangelo, a former Justice Department official who is part of the prosecution team, and Merchan’s daughter, whose firm worked for Trump’s rival, President Joe Biden, and other Democrats.

In its ruling Tuesday, the Appellate Division noted that Trump did not claim the silence violated his right to a fair trial. Trump’s lawyers instead argued that banning Colangelo and Loren Merchan from commenting limited his ability to engage in protected political speech and could harm his campaign.

The appeals court ruled that Judge Merchan “properly weighed” Trump’s free speech rights against “the historic commitment to ensuring the fair administration of justice in criminal cases and the right of persons linked or indirectly linked to criminal proceedings to be free from threats”. bullying, harassment and harm.

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