Manhattan DA opposes Trump bid to lift gag order after hush money conviction

Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump attends a press conference, the day after a guilty verdict in his criminal trial over charges that he falsified business records to conceal money paid to silence porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016, at Trump Tower in New York City, U.S., May 31, 2024.

Brendan Mcdermid | Reuters

New York prosecutors told a judge they oppose a request by former President Donald Trump to lift the gag order on him after he was found guilty in his criminal hush money case.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office asked Judge Juan Merchan to keep the gag order on Trump in place “at least through the sentencing hearing” on July 11 and “the resolution of any post-trial motions.”

Trump’s lawyers this week asked Merchan to vacate the gag order, arguing that the grounds for it no longer exist because the trial had concluded with Trump being convicted last Thursday on all 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in connection with a 2016 hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.

But prosecutors in their new letter to Merchan said the gag order was “based not only on the need to avoid threats to the fairness of the trial itself … but also on the Court’s broader ‘obligation to prevent actual harm to the integrity of the proceedings.’ “

Trump was fined a total of $10,000 during his trial in Manhattan Supreme Court for violating the gag order.

The order bars him from making or directing others to make public statements about witnesses in the case, prosecutors, court staff, jurors, potential jurors, as well as members of Merchan’s family and members of the family of DA Alvin Bragg.

In their letter to Merchan asking for the gag order to be lifted, Trump’s lawyers said that the order restricted his First Amendment rights as he campaigns for president as the presumptive Republican nominee.

The attorneys wrote that “the constitutional mandate for unrestrained campaign advocacy by President Trump is even stronger in light of” a campaign event on behalf of President Joe Biden outside the trial courthouse last week, Biden’s comments on the jury’s verdict in the case, and “continued public attacks” against Trump by Daniels and his former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen.

The lawyers also cited the scheduled June 27 debate between Trump and Biden.

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