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Trump asks judge to lift gag order after conviction in hush money case

Reuters

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Trump asks judge to lift gag order after conviction in hush money case

DONALD TRUMP. Former US President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump leaves the opening of his campaign headquarters in Manchester, New Hampshire, US, June 27, 2023.

Reba Saldanha/REUTERS

'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 President Trump,' defense lawyer Todd Blanche writes in a letter dated June 3

NEW YORK, USA – Donald Trump on Tuesday, June 4, asked the judge who oversaw his criminal trial on charges stemming from hush money paid to a porn star to lift a gag order on the case, in which the former US president was convicted last week.

Before the trial began in April, Justice Juan Merchan restricted Trump’s public statements about jurors, witnesses and others involved in the case. Prosecutors argued Trump’s history of making threatening statements showed he could derail proceedings in the case unless the judge acted.

“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 President Trump,” defense lawyer Todd Blanche wrote in a letter dated June 3 and made public on Tuesday.

A Manhattan jury last week found Trump guilty on all 34 counts he faced of falsifying business records to cover up a $130,000 payment his former lawyer Michael Cohen made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election for her silence about a sexual encounter she says they had.

Trump, the Republican candidate in the 2024 election, denies having sex with Daniels and has vowed to appeal the conviction. He has often called the gag order an unconstitutional violation of his right to free speech.

A spokesperson for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, whose office brought the case, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

During the trial, Merchan fined Trump $1,000 for each of 10 violations of the gag order. Those included a social media post in which he called Cohen a “serial liar” and an interview in which he said, “that jury was picked so fast – 95% Democrats.”

The judge on May 6 threatened to jail Trump for any future violation.

In the letter, Blanche argued that Democratic President Joe Biden – Trump’s opponent in the November election – had commented publicly about the verdict, and that the two men were slated to debate on June 27. He also noted that Cohen and Daniels continued to attack Trump in public.

The order does not limit Trump’s comments about the case in general. Merchan in an April 30 ruling said that witnesses who publicly criticize Trump likely do not need to be protected by the gag order, and on May 6 he rejected two of prosecutors’ requests to fine Trump over comments about Cohen. – Rappler.com

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