Political Speech

What a Judge’s Gag Order on Trump Means in His Hush Money Case

Former U.S. President Trump holds presser after criminal case hearing on porn star hush money charges in New York
In this March 25, 2024, file photo, Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference at one of his properties after attending a hearing in his criminal court case on charges stemming from hush money paid to a porn star in New York City. (Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)

By The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Virtually every day of his hush money criminal trial, former President Donald Trump talks about how he can’t talk about the case.

gag order bars Trump from commenting publicly on witnesses, jurors and some others connected to the matter. The New York judge already has found that Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, repeatedly violated the order, fined him $9,000 and warning that jail could follow if he doesn’t comply.

But the order doesn’t stop Trump from talking about the allegations against him or commenting on the judge or the elected top prosecutor. And despite a recent Trump remark, it doesn’t stop him from testifying in court if he chooses.

As he fights the felony charges against him while running for president, Trump has at times stirred confusion about what he can and can’t do in the case. He has pleaded not guilty.

So what does the order do, what doesn’t it and where did it come from?


Generally speaking, a gag order is a judge’s directive prohibiting someone or people involved in a court case from publicly commenting about some or all aspects of it. In Trump’s case, it’s titled an “Order Restricting Extrajudicial Statements,” with “extrajudicial” meaning outside of court.

Gag orders, particularly in high-profile cases, are intended to prevent information presented outside a courtroom from affecting what happens inside.

Trump also is subject to a gag order in his federal criminal election interference case in Washington. That order limits what he can say about witnesses, lawyers in the case and court staff, though an appeals court freed him to speak about special counsel Jack Smith, who brought the case.

In his recent New York civil fraud trial, Trump was fined a total of $15,000 for comments he made about that judge’s law clerk after a gag order barred participants in the trial from “posting, emailing or speaking publicly” about the court’s staff.