Trump steps up attacks on judge in hush money case after silence order

By | March 28, 2024

Less than 24 hours after being hit with a partial gag order in the New York criminal case over his alleged falsification of business records, the former president said Donald Trump repeatedly lashed out at one person who is not covered by the ruling: the judge.

On his social media platform, Trump called Judge Juan Merchan “biased and contradictory,” while also targeting the judge’s daughter over a social media post that a court spokesperson said was falsely attributed to her.

In a ruling Tuesday, Merchan noted the looming April 15 trial date and said Trump must “refrain” from “making or directing others to make public statements about known or reasonably expected witnesses about their potential participation’ in the case, as well as about individual prosecutors and court staff and their family members.

The order did not mention the judge or his family members — a loophole that Trump exploited on Wednesday.

“By issuing a cruel ‘Gag Order,’ this judge is attempting to wrongfully deprive me of my First Amendment right to speak out against the weaponization of law enforcement,” Trump wrote, saying the judge is suffering from an acute case of Trump. Derangement Syndrome” and should withdraw from the case.

Donald Trump at the New York Criminal Court (Justin Lane/Pool via AP)Donald Trump at the New York Criminal Court (Justin Lane/Pool via AP)

Donald Trump at the New York Criminal Court (Justin Lane/Pool via AP)

The attacks continue a pattern of Trump lashing out at judges and the legal system on social media after receiving an unfavorable ruling in court.

As he had done before, Trump also went after Merchan’s daughter, who worked at a progressive digital marketing agency that has worked for many Democratic candidates.

“Maybe the judge is such a hater because his daughter makes money working on ‘Get Trump,’” one of his posts read. He also accused her of posting a photo of him behind bars on social media — an accusation that appears to have come from a Trump ally, far-right activist and conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer, who tweeted the photo.

In a statement Wednesday evening, Al Baker, a spokesman for the state court system, said the X account attributed to Merchan’s daughter did not belong to her. Baker said the account “is no longer hers since she deleted it about a year ago. It is not associated with her email address, nor has she posted under that screen name since deleting the account.”

The handle used in the X profile Loomer highlighted was previously linked to Merchan’s daughter in 2022, but the profile Loomer shared said the person joined wrote critical stories about the daughter.

Baker said someone apparently recreated a version of the account that month, which he called the “tampering of an account she had long ago abandoned.”

Loomer also leveled an accusation last year against the wife of Judge Arthur Engoron, who presided over Trump’s civil fraud case, accusing her of sharing anti-Trump memes on social media.

Trump then attacked the judge’s wife, who was not protected by the partial gag order issued by Engoron in that case.

Baker then said the messages Loomer promoted were not from the judge’s wife.

“Judge Engoron’s wife did not post on social media about the former president. They are not hers,” Baker said.

Trump has never acknowledged or apologized for the apparently false accusation.

A Trump representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Baker on Wednesday evening, saying the X account attributed to Merchan’s daughter was not hers.

An NBC News analysis earlier this year of Trump’s posts on his social media platform Truth Social found that his unprecedented attacks on the justice system were often tied to developments in his lawsuits, and sometimes outweighed his posts about his re-election bid.

Trump’s criticism is often at the expense of his targets. Merchan, Engoron and Tanya Chutkan, the judge presiding over his federal election interference case in Washington DC, have all received threats in response to Trump’s complaints.

Merchan cited his experience in issuing his ruling Tuesday, blocking Trump from making comments about individual prosecutors (with the exception of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg), court personnel, their family members and jurors and potential jurors.

Although he did not initially issue an order at the outset of the case, the judge said he was now acting “given the nature and impact of the statements made against this Court and a family member,” as well as against prosecutors and witnesses, and “Given that the eve of the trial, it is indisputable that the impending risk of damage is now of the utmost importance.”

Trump’s lawyers had argued in court filings that because their client is the presumptive Republican nominee for president, he should have “unfettered access to the voting public to respond to attacks by political opponents.”

Merchan said in his ruling that Trump’s public comments in this and other cases “went far beyond defending himself from attacks.”

“His statements were indeed threatening, inflammatory” and “disparaging,” and the “consequences of those statements included not only fear on the part of the targeted individual, but also the allocation of increased security resources to investigate threats and protect the individuals.” relatives thereof,” the judge wrote.

The district attorney’s case alleges that Trump falsified business records to cover up payments he made to his then-attorney Michael Cohen in repayment for a $130,000 hush-money payment handed out by Cohen in the final days of the 2016 campaign to adult film star Stormy Daniels. Daniels claimed she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006, which Trump denies.

Trump has pleaded not guilty in the case and claims the charges are part of a politically orchestrated witch hunt against him.

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