Trump held in contempt for violating gag order in hush-money trial

 April 30, 2024

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

A New York judge hearing a business records case against President Donald Trump this week doubled down on his decision to censor Trump – and ONLY Trump – in the dispute.

Juan Merchan is hearing the case involving allegations by New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg that Trump misreported business figures, a misdemeanor for which the statute of limitations expired years ago. But Bragg claims now they are felonies because those reports, allegedly addressing "hush money" paid by Trump's lawyer to Stormy Daniels, were in furtherance of another crime, a misdemeanor election promotion.

Merchan earlier demanded that Trump be gagged, and prohibited from commenting about many aspects of the case, and now has doubled down on his censorship order by ruling Trump violated that gag order, and ordered him to pay $9,000 penalties.

The Washington Examiner said Merchan, who refused to leave the case even though his daughter is a Democrat activist who reportedly has been fundraising millions off her father's decisions, sided with prosecutors who claimed Trump spoke when he wasn't allowed to speak.

Merchan earlier held a hearing where Trump lawyer Todd Blanche explained his client has responded, as the presumptive GOP nominee for president this election, to political attacks, but there were no willful violations of any gag order.

Merchan, while allowing prosecutors and witnesses to make any claim they desire about Trump, has ordered Trump not to say anything about prosecutors, court staff, lawyers, and family members, or anything about Bragg.

Bragg's case is based largely on the testimony of ex-lawyer Michael Cohen, who was sentenced to three years in prison in 2019 for fraud, campaign violations, and lying to Congress.

Trump faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in connection to reimbursing Cohen, who had paid porn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 to remain silent about an alleged affair.

WND reported only days ago when Trump publicly challenged Merchan to cancel the "unconstitutional" gag order.

Trump previously stated, "I'm not allowed to talk, but people are allowed to talk about me. I'd love to talk to you people. I'd love to say what's on my mind, but I've got a gag order."

He said, "I don't believe anything has happened like this. It's a disgrace and it's unconstitutional."

Trump then went to social media to urge Merchan to halt the censorship.

“45th President Donald J. Trump is again the Republican Nominee for President of the United States and is currently dominating in the Polls. However, he is being inundated by the Media with questions because of this Rigged Biden Trial, which President Trump is not allowed to comment on, or answer, because of Judge Juan Merchan’s UNPRECEDENTED AND UNCONSTITUTIONAL Gag Order."

He continued, "His Opponents have unlimited rights to question, but he has no right to respond. There has never been a situation like this in our Country’s History, a Candidate who is not allowed to answer questions. Even Crooked Joe Biden is talking about the Sham Case, and others inspired by his Administration.

"We request that Judge Merchan immediately LIFT THE GAG ORDER so that President Trump can freely state his views, feelings, and policies. He is asking for his Constitutional Right to Free Speech. If it is not granted, this again becomes a Rigged Election!"

While the bookkeeping allegations, and other cases that have appeared, are seen as Democrat "lawfare" against Trump trying to destroy his 2024 candidacy, even the judge's ruling is seen by critics as part of that, as it prevents Trump from commenting on the constitutionality of the counts, the reason for the case and more.

Legal experts have suggested Bragg's case, so far, is failing badly.

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley explained even a prosecution witness was benefiting Trump.

“It’s a breakdown in the courtroom. They have a witness that is disassembling in front of them," Turley said.

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