New York's highest court leaves muzzle on Trump despite trial being over

 June 19, 2024

The highest appeals court in New York has shut down Donald Trump's request to lift the gag order in his "hush money" case, even as Democrats ramp up political attacks based on the guilty verdict.

Lawyers for Trump argued the continued restrictions are a First Amendment issue, limiting Trump's "core political speech on matters of central importance at the height of his Presidential campaign.”

The New York Court of Appeals rejected the appeal, finding it did not present a substantial constitutional question.

Court leaves gag order

The gag order blocks Trump from commenting on jurors and witnesses like Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels, who have continued to share negative commentary about Trump since the trial concluded in May.

Trump also can't comment freely on court staff or prosecutors - with the exception of District Attorney Alvin Bragg - or the family members of both.

Trump's team has asked trial judge Juan Merchan to lift the order now that the trial is over. Trump's lawyers emphasize they are not conceding the order was ever justified.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D) has said the gag order should remain in place to shield the "integrity" of the polarizing trial, which Trump has blasted as a political sham.

Trump's lawyers and campaign say the gag order unfairly silences Trump at the height of the presidential campaign. Indeed, Joe Biden has pounced on the guilty verdict to the tune of $50 million to blast Trump as a "convicted felon" ahead of their first presidential debate on June 27.


Defense lawyer Todd Blanche said the First Amendment issues are even more significant in light of Biden's attacks and similar comments from Cohen and Daniels.

"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—who remains the leading candidate in the 2024 presidential election—and the American people," Blanche wrote.

During the trial, Marchant fined Trump $10,000 for violating the order and threatened to jail him. Merchan has yet to rule on Trump's request to lift the gag order.

The judge will sentence Trump on July 11, days before the Republican National Convention.

"President Trump and his legal team will continue to fight against the unconstitutional Gag Order imposed by Justice Merchan," Steven Cheung, a Trump campaign spokesman, said in a statement.

"The Election Interfering Gag Order violates the First Amendment rights of President Trump and all American voters, who have a fundamental right to hear his message," he added.

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