Political Speech

Manhattan DA Asks Judge for a Gag Order in Trump’s Hush-Money Case Ahead of Trial

Trump Organization trial in New York State Supreme Court in New York
Former U.S. President Donald Trump attends the Trump Organization civil fraud trial, in New York State Supreme Court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, Oct. 25, 2023. (Spencer Platt/Pool via Reuters)

By The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Prosecutors in Donald Trump’s New York hush-money criminal case asked a judge Monday to impose a gag order on the former president ahead of next month’s trial, citing a “long history of making public and inflammatory remarks” about people involved in his legal cases.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office asked for what it called a “narrowly tailored” gag order that would bar Trump from making or directing others to make public statements about potential witnesses and jurors, as well as statements meant to interfere with or harass the court’s staff, prosecution team or their families.

“Self-regulation is not a viable alternative, as defendant’s recent history makes plain,” prosecutors wrote in court papers. Trump, they said, “has a longstanding and perhaps singular history” of using social media, campaign speeches and other public statements to “attack individuals that he considers to be adversaries.”

The requested gag order would not ban Trump from commenting about the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg.

Jury selection in the case is scheduled to begin March 25. Barring a last-minute delay, it will be the first of Trump’s four criminal cases to go to trial.

The judge, Juan Manuel Merchan, didn’t immediately rule on the prosecution’s gag order request. Trump lawyer Susan Necheles said the defense will respond in court papers later this week.

Steven Cheung, a spokesperson for Trump’s presidential campaign, called the request “election interference pure and simple” and called the case a “sham orchestrated by partisan Democrats desperately attempting to prevent” Trump from returning to the White House.

“Today, the 2-tiered system of justice implemented against President Trump is on full display, with the request by another Deranged Democrat prosecutor seeking a restrictive gag order, which if granted, would impose an unconstitutional infringement on President Trump’s First Amendment rights, including his ability to defend himself, and the rights of all Americans to hear from President Trump,” Cheung said in a statement.

Trump is already subject to a gag order in his separate federal case in Washington charging him with scheming to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

That order was initially imposed in October by the judge overseeing the case and largely upheld by a federal appeals panel two months later, though the court did narrow the initial speech restrictions by giving Trump license to criticize the special counsel who brought the case.

Trump was also under a limited gag order in his New York civil fraud trial and was fined $15,000 for twice violating it. Judge Arthur Engoron imposed that gag order on Oct. 3 after Trump made a disparaging social media post about the judge’s chief law clerk.