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Trump Gets Big Win

Judge Partially Lifts Trump’s Hush Money Gag Order

A New York judge has partially lifted the gag order that was imposed on former President Trump in his hush money criminal case. This updated decision permits Trump to speak about trial witnesses such as Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels, both of whom he has frequently criticized. The timing of this partial lift is notable, coming just days before the first presidential debate of the 2024 election, where Trump is expected to discuss his conviction.

However, the gag order still restricts Trump from commenting on the prosecutors handling the case, with the exception of District Attorney Alvin Bragg and Judge Juan Merchan. Judge Merchan indicated he would lift these restrictions following the July 11 sentencing.

This adjustment allows Trump to publicly address the jury that convicted him last month on 34 criminal charges, although he is still under a separate protective order that prevents him from revealing the jurors’ identities. Judge Merchan expressed his preference to continue protecting the jurors’ identities, as requested by Bragg’s office, but acknowledged that circumstances had changed since the trial ended.

Judge Merchan wrote, “The trial portion of these proceedings ended when the verdict was rendered, and the jury discharged,” explaining his reluctant decision to lift the restrictions.

While the judge’s order does not mention the upcoming presidential debate where Trump will face President Biden, it aligns closely with the event’s timing. Trump was convicted last month of falsifying business records related to a hush money payment made by his former lawyer Cohen to Daniels before the 2016 election to keep her quiet about an alleged affair. Trump has denied the affair and plans to appeal the verdict.

Trump and his legal team have long argued that the gag order infringed on his First Amendment rights, emphasizing his role as the leading Republican presidential candidate. After the trial concluded, they requested the judge lift the restrictions.

In his defense of the original gag order, Judge Merchan noted that appellate courts had supported it, stating, “Both Orders were narrowly tailored to address the significant concerns regarding the Defendant’s extrajudicial speech. The Orders were overwhelmingly supported by the record.”

Merchan also found that Trump had violated the gag order ten times during the lead-up to and during his trial, resulting in fines of $1,000 per violation and a warning that further breaches could lead to jail time.

Trump’s conviction marks the first time a former U.S. president has been found guilty in such a case. District Attorney Bragg has not yet indicated whether his office will seek jail time for Trump.

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