New York court issues gag order against Trump in hush money case News
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New York court issues gag order against Trump in hush money case

New York’s supreme court on Tuesday issued an order restricting former US president Donald Trump from making extrajudicial statements that could sway jurors and witnesses ahead of his upcoming trial for alleged hush money payments made to an adult film star.

Set to commence on April 15, 2024, the trial will center on 34 counts of business record falsification, stemming from suspected hush money payments issued to adult film star Stormy Daniels in a bid to prevent her from leaking details of an alleged romantic affair with Trump to the press ahead of the 2016 presidential elections.

Prosecutors allege that shortly before the 2016 vote, Trump ordered attorney Michael Cohen to pay Daniels $130,000 for her silence, before ultimately reimbursing Cohen with a series of checks, and then falsifying business records to conceal the arrangement. The story went public nonetheless in January 2018, broken by The Wall Street Journal.

Prosecutors moved on February 22, 2024 to limit Trump’s extrajudicial statements ahead of trial, which the latter resisted, claiming he needed to communicate with the public ahead of the 2024 vote.

In its decision, the New York Supreme Court focused on balancing Trump’s First Amendment right to free speech against the interests of judicial integrity. In finding for the prosecution, the court pointed to Trump’s reputation for incendiary statements toward various individuals involved in legal proceedings against him, determining these actions posed a real risk to the orderly administration of justice.

The order prohibits Trump from making or directing others to make public statements about potential witnesses, counsel other than the District Attorney, court, and District Attorney’s staff, and their family members, if such statements could interfere with their duties in this criminal case. Trump is also restricted from commenting on prospective or actual jurors.

This is one of several cases currently pending against Trump in US courts and one of four pending criminal cases against the former president.

Trump was previously issued a gag order in his federal election interference criminal case, which he unsuccessfully challenged before the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. The former president was also given a gag order in his New York civil fraud trial, which a state appeals court also upheld.