World

Judge in Trump hush-money case asked to issue gag order on former president

The Manhattan district attorney’s office cited Mr Trump’s ‘long history of making public and inflammatory remarks’.

The Manhattan district attorney has requested Donald Trump be subjected to a gag order (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Donald Trump The Manhattan district attorney has requested Donald Trump be subjected to a gag order (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Prosecutors in Donald Trump’s New York hush-money criminal case asked a judge on Monday to impose a gag order on the former president ahead of next month’s trial.

They cited his “long history of making public and inflammatory remarks” about people involved in his legal cases.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office asked for what they called a “narrowly tailored” gag order that would bar Mr 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.

The request excludes comments about the district attorney, Alvin Bragg.

Jury selection in the case is scheduled to begin on March 25.

The judge, Juan Manuel Merchan, did not immediately rule on the application.

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” Mr Trump from returning to the White House.

“Today, the two-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,” Mr Cheung said in a statement.

“Self-regulation is not a viable alternative, as defendant’s recent history makes plain,” prosecutors wrote in court papers.

Mr 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”.

Mr Trump is already subject to a gag order in his 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 Mr Trump licence to criticise the special counsel who brought the case.

Mr Trump was also under a limited gag order in his New York civil fraud trial and was fined 15,000 US dollars (£11,800) for twice violating it.

Judge Arthur Engoron imposed the gag order on October 3 after Trump made a disparaging social media post about his chief law clerk.