Gag order may be imposed ahead of Trump's arraignment: Report

April 3, 2023
Robert Ayers

According to the Daily Mail, former President Donald Trump's legal team believes that the judge who will oversee the case that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has brought against Trump will impose a gag order on the proceedings. 

The outlet reports that such a gag order, if violated, could result in a $1,000 fine and a 30-day prison sentence.

This comes after it was revealed on Thursday that Bragg and the grand jury that he convened have decided to indict Trump. The charges are unclear as the indictment remains sealed.

Trump, however, maintains that he has done nothing wrong and that Bragg's motivation is political. Accordingly, Trump plans to plead "not guilty" when he makes his first court appearance in New York City on Tuesday.

Meet the judge

The judge who will oversee the case is Manhattan's Acting Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan.

The Daily Mail reports that "Merchan has been described as a 'no-nonsense judge' who wouldn't hesitate to jail someone for a breach of a gag order."

Trump, on Saturday, had this to say about Merchan:

The Judge “assigned” to my Witch Hunt Case, a “Case” that has NEVER BEEN CHARGED BEFORE, HATES ME. His name is Juan Manuel Marchan, was hand picked by Bragg & the Prosecutors, & is the same person who “railroaded” my 75 year old former CFO, Allen Weisselberg, to take a “plea” deal (Plead GUILTY, even if you are not, 90 DAYS, fight us in Court, 10 years (life!) in jail. He strong armed Allen, which a judge is not allowed to do, & treated my companies, which didn't “plead,” VICIOUSLY. APPEALING!

The significance of the gag order:

It's not that Trump may end up in jail for violating it. Rather, the significance of the gag order is that Trump will not be allowed to speak about the case.

The Daily Mail quotes a source as saying, "the Trump legal team now thinks that the Manhattan judge will take the unprecedented step of silencing the presidential frontrunner with an unconstitutional gag order tomorrow."

Trump and many others are already accusing Bragg of "election interference," considering the impact that Bragg's indictment of Trump is already having on the 2024 presidential race - a race which, on the Republican side, Trump is dominating.

If Trump is not allowed to speak about the case - or even allude to it in any way - this could significantly restrict his campaigning.

What now?

Trump put out a message on Monday, saying:

I will be leaving Mar-a-Lago on Monday at 12 noon, heading to Trump Tower in New York. On Tuesday morning I will be going to, believe it or not, the Courthouse. America was not supposed to be this way!

Trump will surrender, but, reportedly, will not be put in handcuffs. He will plead "not guilty" at the arraignment, and then it is expected that he will head back to Florida, where he will give a speech. A gag order, however, might change what Trump is allowed to say in this speech.

Joe Tacopina, Trump's attorney, says that he plans to "dissect" Bragg's indictment and that he anticipates filing "a motion to dismiss" because "there's no law that fits this."

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