Trump claims gag order is ‘unconstitutional’ after New York court threatens jail for latest violation News
White House, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Trump claims gag order is ‘unconstitutional’ after New York court threatens jail for latest violation

Donald Trump claimed Tuesday that a gag order imposed against him ahead of his ongoing New York hush money trial was unconstitutional. The comments came a day after the former president was held in criminal contempt for the second time in a week and threatened with incarceration.

In the weeks leading up to Trump’s criminal trial for alleged hush money payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels, New York’s supreme court issued an order banning the defendant — a famously prolific social media poster — from making extrajudicial statements that could sway jurors and witnesses.

Last week, Judge Juan Merchan of the New York Supreme Court held Trump in contempt for nine violations of the order, citing statements made via his social media platform and his campaign website. He was fined $9,000, and ordered to delete the offending posts.

This week’s order arose from the following statement, which Trump made in an interview on April 22, as quoted in court documents:

You know [the judge is] rushing the trial like crazy. Nobody’s ever seen a thing go like this. That jury was picked so fast — 95 [percent] democrats. The area’s mostly all democrat. You think of it as a — just a purely democrat area. It’s a very unfair situation that I can tell you.

In Monday’s order, Merchan said the statement violated the gag order by making public statements about the jury and how it was selected, thereby calling into question the integrity and legitimacy of the trial. He went on to issue what appears to have been his strongest warning yet that the former president could be jailed should he continue to violate the order:

Because this is now the tenth time that this Court has found Defendant in criminal contempt, spanning three separate motions, it is apparent that monetary fines have not, and will not, suffice to deter Defendant from violating this Court’s lawful orders. Therefore, Defendant is hereby put on notice that if appropriate and warranted, future violations of its lawful orders will be punishable by incarceration.

Apparently unfazed , Trump responded Tuesday morning with statements posted to his social media account:

The gag order is unconstitutional. … Every legal scholar that I’ve seen has said there’s absolutely no case. … The trial is a very, very unfair trial. The good news is they have nothing.

He went on to claim the trial was a political measure designed to stymy what he hopes will be his return to the White House following the upcoming presidential elections.

Though Trump is the first former US president to be charged with a crime, a criminal conviction would not necessarily factor into his eligibility for the nation’s highest office. Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the US Constitution lays out three requirements for would-be presidents: citizenship, age 35 or older, and at least 14 years of residency within the US.