Trump hit with gag order in New York hush money case after slamming judge

A judge on Tuesday imposed a limited gag order on Donald Trump ahead of his criminal hush money trial in New York.

Trump’s statements about various figures involved in the case “were threatening, inflammatory [and] denigrating,” Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan said in a court order.

“Such inflammatory statements undoubtedly risk impeding the orderly administration of this Court,” Merchan ruled.

The gag order bars Trump from making public statements about likely witnesses and jurors in the case.

He must also refrain from speaking about lawyers in the case, court staff, employees in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and their family members if those statements are made with the “intent to materially interfere” with the case.

Merchan’s order still allows Trump to speak out about Alvin Bragg, the district attorney prosecuting the former president on charges of falsifying business records to conceal a hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.

The gag order does not specifically bar Trump from criticizing the judge.

Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung in a statement to NBC News said the gag order prevents the presumptive Republican presidential nominee “from engaging in core political speech, which is entitled to the highest level of protection under the First Amendment.”

Merchan’s decision, which granted a Feb. 22 request by Bragg to restrict Trump’s speech about the case, came hours after Trump tore into the judge as a “Trump Hater” on social media.

Trump in multiple Truth Social posts called on Merchan to recuse himself from the case, and roped the judge’s daughter into his attacks by pointing to her work for a Democratic consulting firm.

The fusillade against Merchan came one day after the judge scheduled the trial to start April 15, rejecting a bid by Trump’s attorneys to delay it further.

Trump, who was in court when Merchan delivered that decision, said at a press conference afterward that he would be willing to testify in the trial.

Merchan’s gag order ruling Tuesday afternoon appeared to reference Trump’s remarks about his daughter.

He noted “the nature and impact of the statements made against this Court and a family member thereof,” along with Trump’s remarks about witnesses such as Michael Cohen, his former attorney who is set to testify in the trial.

“Given that the eve of trial is upon us, it is without question that the imminency of the risk of harm is now paramount,” the judge wrote.

Merchan also noted in a footnote that Trump targeted a prosecutor in the case “within hours” of the April 15 trial date being set.

Trump attorney Todd Blanche declined a request for comment.

Trump is already bound by a gag order in a separate criminal case in Washington, D.C., federal court, where he is charged with illegally trying to overturn his 2020 election loss to President Joe Biden. A federal appeals court in December upheld Trump’s challenge of that gag order, but narrowed it to allow him to speak about his prosecutor, special counsel Jack Smith.

Trump also was under a gag order in his civil fraud case, in which he was found liable for fraudulently inflating his asset values on business records for financial gain.

Bragg, in his own gag order request in late February, noted that Trump has a “long history of making public and inflammatory remarks about the participants in various judicial proceedings against him, including jurors, witnesses, lawyers, and court staff.”

Trump’s attorneys argued in response that it would be “unconstitutional and unlawful to impose a prior restraint” on the First Amendment-protected speech of the leading presidential candidate.

They instead said they would continue to comply with a judge’s admonition at the start of the case, cautioning Trump not to make statements that would prejudice the trial process.

But Merchan in Tuesday’s order said he was “unpersuaded” by that proposal.

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