Judge Rules to Prevent Trump from Speaking of Some Hush Money Case Details

May 4, 2023

New York State Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan ruled Thursday to keep former President Trump from discussing certain evidence in his hush money felony case.

Merchan said the ruling would only apply to evidence obtained by the prosecution and turned over to Trump attorneys to prepare for trial. 

“I am not going to do anything…to infringe on his First Amendment rights,” Merchan said.

On April 4, Trump was arraigned on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records and conspiracy related to his role in hush money payments during the 2016 campaign season.

The defense and prosecution went before Merchan to argue about a court order prosecutors are seeking that would stop Trump from publicly disclosing certain evidence. Prosecutors assert the gag order was necessary, given Trump’s track record of attacks via social media, to reduce the risk of witness harassment.

Defense attorneys countered that the proposed order is too restrictive and that Trump has a right to comment on evidence, both to defend himself and as a candidate in the 2024 presidential election.

Acknowledging that Trump’s rhetoric “can have consequences,” Merchan said Trump was free to speak on a majority of the evidence—just not that which the prosecution turned over to the defense. He added that Trump was free to comment on evidence that the defense brings forth.

“I am bending over backwards,” the judge said, to see that Trump is “given every opportunity possible…to advance his candidacy.”

The partial gag order came on the same day that Trump’s legal team planned to seek to move the trial from Manhattan to federal court, in an attempt to potentially put the case before what they perceive would be a more friendly jury to their client. 

Merchan also asked Trump’s defense attorneys and prosecutors to see if they can agree on a trial date in February or March 2024.

PHOTO: New York State Supreme Court

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