Shropshire Star

Prosecutors urge judge to keep gag order blocking Trump from criticising jurors

They agreed that one provision of the gag order, which prevented Trump from attacking trial witnesses in the case, could be lifted.

Donald Trump on stage at a campaign event in Racine, Wisconsin

Prosecutors in Manhattan are urging the judge overseeing Donald Trump’s criminal hush money case to uphold a gag order that bars the former president from criticising jurors, court staff or members of the prosecution that convicted him.

They agreed that one provision of the gag order, which prevented Trump from attacking trial witnesses in the case, could be lifted.

In court papers filed on Friday, prosecutors with the Manhattan district attorney’s office argued that portions of the gag order remained necessary given Trump’s “singular history of inflammatory and threatening public statements”, as well as efforts by his supporters to “identify jurors and threaten violence”.

Donald Trump leaving court in New York in May
Donald Trump walks out of the courtroom after a jury convicted him of falsifying business records in May (Seth Wenig/AP)

“Since the verdict in this case, defendant has not exempted the jurors from his alarming rhetoric that he would have ‘every right’ to seek retribution as president against the participants in this trial as a consequence of his conviction because ‘sometimes revenge can be justified’,” the filing states.

The gag order, issued in March, prohibited Trump from making or directing others to make public statements about witnesses, jurors and others connected to the case. It does not restrict comments about the judge, Juan M Merchan, or Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg, whose office prosecuted the case.

Lawyers for Trump have called on the judge to lift the order following the culmination of his trial last month, which ended in his conviction on 34 felony counts for falsifying records to cover up a potential sex scandal. Trump denied any wrongdoing.

Defence lawyers argue Trump should be free to fully address the case as he campaigns for the White House, pointing to comments made by US President Joe Biden and the continued public criticism of him by his ex-lawyer Michael Cohen and the adult film actor Stormy Daniels, both key prosecution witnesses.

“Now that the trial is concluded, the concerns articulated by the government and the court do not justify continued restrictions on the First Amendment rights” of Trump, they wrote earlier this month.

In their letter, prosecutors agreed that the provision barring statements about trial witnesses no longer needed to be enforced. They said the restrictions on statements about prosecutors in the case — with the exception of Mr Bragg — as well as court staff and their family members should remain in place.

Judge Merchan is expected to issue a ruling soon, possibly before Trump’s June 27 debate with Mr Biden.

Earlier this week, New York’s top court declined to hear the former president’s appeal on the gag order, finding it does not raise “substantial” constitutional issues that would warrant an immediate intervention.

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