Judge will ‘most likely’ slap former president with gag order
Following his indictment in Manhattan, Former President Donald Trump has been posting non-stop about the allegations on social media – but experts say that could be about to change.
Trump, 76, has lashed out several times on Truth Social following the announcement on Thursday that he would face charges over alleged hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels.
But his freedom to respond how he sees fit is likely to be restricted when he surrenders and appears in a courthouse in Manhattan on Tuesday.
Duncan Levin, a former federal prosecutor with the Department of Justice, has warned that Manhattan’s Acting Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan is likely to issue a gag order on the former president.
If Trump violates it by speaking about the case outside the courtroom, he could be punished for criminal contempt – which under New York law could leave him facing a fine of up to $1,000, 30 days of jail time or sometimes both.
Trump, 76, has lashed out several times on Truth Social following the announcement on Thursday that he would face charges over alleged hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels
He has branded it a ‘witch hunt’ by the Democrats but would be unable to post anything similar if the restriction is put in place
Levin told Insider: ‘I think it’s not only a possibility, but it’s extremely likely that there will be a gag order in the case.
‘Gag orders are very common in criminal cases, particularly in cases where there is an enormous amount of pretrial publicity like this one.’
Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen was previously sent back to federal prison in upstate New York for questioning a gag order while serving his three-year sentence under home confinement.
The former president has been unable to stop talking about his upcoming court hearing, branding it as a ‘witch-hunt’ for the Democrats and launching a series of vicious attacks on Merchan and Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg.
Merchan previously presided over the tax fraud case in Manhattan in which the Trump Organization was found guilty – with Trump writing on Truth Social that the judge ‘HATES ME’.
Levin added: ‘This is a criminal case now, so the rules have changed, and the rules are no longer in his purview to make.
‘He is a criminal defendant and, you know, we see hundreds of thousands of criminal defendants across the country every day who have a lot of rights stripped away from them and he is now one of them. These proceedings are going to change his life.’
Lawyers can also be limited to routine details of the case as well as the next court appearance, but Levin believes that a gag order is likely to be issued to both legal teams.
Manhattan’s Acting Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan has been described as a ‘no-nonsense judge’ who wouldn’t hesitate to jail someone for a breach of a gag order
If Trump violates it by speaking about the case outside the courtroom, he could be punished for criminal contempt – which under New York law is a fine of up to $1,000, 30 days of jail time or sometimes both
Trump’s lawyer Joe Tacopina NBC’s ‘Today’ on Friday that Trump was ‘initially shocked’ by news of the indictment, but he is ‘ready to be combative’ in defending himself.
Former Indiana Attorney General Jeff Modisett added that the order would be a ‘carefully defined, narrowly restricted gag order’ which would be upheld on appeal.
Usually, those who violate a gag order are given a warning, but violations following that would ‘likely lead to contempt of court’ according to Levin.
He added: ‘Theoretically, a litigant who breaks a gag order could be thrown in jail.
‘Merchan is an absolutely no-nonsense judge who will keep a very tight control on the proceedings.
Lawyers can also be limited to routine details of the case as well as the next court appearance, but Levin believes that a gag order is likely to be issued to both legal teams
‘Extrajudicial statements by Trump are not going to be looked on kindly by this judge. If the judge finds that he’s crossed a line you’d better believe that this judge is going to do something about it.’
The exact charges against Trump will not be known until the indictment is unsealed, which is expected to happen next week.
They are believed to be in relation to the 2016 payment of $130,000 from his former attorney Michael Cohen to Daniels, a porn star who claims to have slept with Trump in 2005.
Trump maintains his innocence, insisting he had nothing to do with it.