April 13th, 2024

Judge expands Trump’s gag order after ex-president’s social media posts about judge’s daughter

By Michael R. Sisak, The Associated Press on April 1, 2024.

Former President Donald Trump departs 40 Wall Street after a news conference, Monday, March 25, 2024, in New York. A New York judge has scheduled an April 15 trial date in former President Donald Trump's hush money case. Judge Juan M. Merchan made the ruling Monday. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

NEW YORK (AP) – The judge in Donald Trump’s hush-money criminal case on Monday declared his daughter off-limits to the former president’s rancor, expanding a gag order days after Trump assailed and made false claims about her on social media.

Judge Juan M. Merchan said the gag order he issued last week did not include members of his family, but Trump’s subsequent attacks on his daughter warranted including them.

“This pattern of attacking family members of presiding jurists and attorneys assigned to his cases serves no legitimate purpose,” Merchan wrote. “It merely injects fear in those assigned or called to participate in the proceedings that not only they, but their family members as well, are “˜fair game,’ for Defendant’s vitriol.”

Merchan’s daughter, Loren Merchan, is a Democratic political consultant. Prosecutors had urged Merchan to clarify or expand his gag order after Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform that Loren Merchan “makes money by working to “˜Get Trump,'” and wrongly accused her of posting a social media photo showing him behind bars.

The trial, which involves allegations Trump falsified payment records in a scheme to cover up negative stories during his 2016 presidential campaign, is scheduled to begin April 15. Trump denies wrongdoing and has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records.

Trump’s lawyers had fought the gag order and its expansion, arguing that Trump was engaging in protected political campaign speech.

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