Trump barred from discussing witnesses, others in hush money case by judge.

New York — Due to Trump's history of “threatening, inflammatory, denigrating” remarks about witnesses, prosecutors, court staff, and jurors in his upcoming hush-money criminal trial, a New York judge issued a gag order Tuesday.

A day earlier, Judge Juan M. Merchan denied the defense's request to delay the Manhattan trial until summer and ordered it to begin April 15. The first former president criminal trial will occur if the date holds.

“Given that the eve of trial is upon us, it is without question that the imminency of the risk of harm is now paramount,” Merchan wrote in a four-page judgment approving the prosecution's request for a “narrowly tailored” gag order. The judge stated the likely Republican presidential nominee's words have incited fear and require more security to safeguard targets and investigate threats.

Trump's lawyers argued that a gag order would violate his free speech rights. Merchan had long opposed a gag order, but he believed trial integrity trumped First Amendment concerns. Trump lawyers Todd Blanche and Susan Necheles stated in a court statement that “President Trump’s political opponents have, and will continue to, attack him based on this case.” The voters have the right to hear President Trump's free responses to those attacks, not just one side.

Trump cannot make or direct public statements concerning hush-money trial witnesses and jurors under the gag order. It also forbids statements that harass or interfere with court workers, prosecution team, or their families.

It does not prohibit comments against Merchan, whom Trump called “a Trump-hating judge” with a family full of “Trump haters” after his arraignment last year, or elected Democrat Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. Trump is warned that assaults on critical figures like his former lawyer-turned-nemesis Michael Cohen and porn star Stormy Daniels would not be tolerated. Trump might be imprisoned, fined, or placed in contempt for a violation.

since a crucial prosecution witness against Trump, Cohen said, “I want to thank Judge Merchan for imposing the gag order as I have been under relentless assault from Donald's MAGA supporters. “Knowing Donald as well as I do, he will try to defy the gag order by using others in his circle to do his bidding, regardless of consequence.” Blanche said nothing. The Bragg office also declined comment. Trump's campaign was contacted for comment.

The gag order adds to limits prohibiting Trump from attacking witnesses with case material. Trump's hush-money case involves claims that he falsely recorded payments to Cohen, his personal lawyer, as legal fees in his company's books for covering up bad Trump news during the 2016 campaign. Daniels was paid $130,000 by Trump to keep her silence about a sexual encounter with him years before.

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