Judge Refuses to Green Light Angry Trump Posts

Doug Mills/Getty
Doug Mills/Getty

Donald Trump tried—and failed—to lure the judge overseeing his New York criminal trial into the position of greenlighting his angry screeds to ensure they don’t violate a gag order that seeks to stop him from continuing to intimidate witnesses and jurors.

The move came after Trump got slapped with $9,000 in fines and a warning of a potential stay in the slammer on Tuesday, then had to fend off the risk of an additional $4,000 in penalties Thursday morning.

After a trial lunch break, the former president’s legal team approached New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan with a curious request: If Trump keeps getting into hot water for sharing news stories about the trial but still theoretically has a First Amendment right to speak about the case in general terms, would the judge be willing to review and OK posts before he makes them?

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Defense attorney Susan Necheles told the judge she had “a stack of newspaper articles” she’d like him to peruse—just to be extra sure he’d be all right with Trump sharing them with his MAGA followers.

Necheles said these were “all articles that President Trump would like to post on his Truth,” referring to the business tycoon’s Orwellianly named social media network.

“He has some concerns, because they do mention witnesses, prosecutors by name,” she said. “We think they are perfectly fine, but we think there is some ambiguity with the gag order.”

Merchan wouldn’t take the bait.

Shortly after Manhattan District Attorney’s Office prosecutor Christopher Conroy noted how “it seems odd they’re asking the court for an advance order on these things,” the judge explained he wouldn’t play along.

“I’m not going to give advanced release… I’m not going to be in a position to read posts,” Merchan said. “There is no ambiguity.”

However, Necheles pressed on.“I hear what you're saying,” she said, describing what she sees as the challenge in trying to thread a needle that would allow Trump to keep speaking out on the 2024 presidential campaign trail while not running afoul of a gag order that forbids the politician from directly discussing witnesses he rages over, like his once-trusted consigliere Michael Cohen and the porn star Stormy Daniels.

But he simply wouldn’t budge.

“I'm not going to argue with you, Ms. Necheles,” Merchan said. “I'm not going to give you an advanced ruling on this.”

With that, the judge brought the jury back into the courtroom and continued the trial with more testimony from Keith Davidson, a b-list celebrity lawyer who represented two women who struck hush-money deals with Trump and was being cross-examined by defense lawyer Emil Bove.

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