Day 6 of Trump New York hush money trial

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Former President Donald Trump speaks after leaving Manhattan criminal court on Tuesday in New York.
Former President Donald Trump speaks after leaving Manhattan criminal court on Tuesday in New York. Yuki Iwamura/Pool/Reuters

Upon leaving the courtroom on Tuesday, former President Donald Trump approached media cameras, began talking, and complained that he is “not allowed to talk.” 

Trump was criticizing Judge Juan Merchan’s gag order on him. Merchan had held a hearing on Tuesday morning to consider prosecutors’ allegations that Trump violated the gag order with a series of online posts, including some in which the presumptive Republican presidential nominee shared others’ articles related to the case on social media.

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Trump claimed, “Can’t even allow articles to be put in.” He claimed the articles he is referring to say “the case is a sham.” He added, “I don’t even know if you’re allowed to put them in.” He also claimed that although others are permitted to lie and speak about him, “I’m not allowed to say anything.”

“I’d love to talk to you people, I’d love to say everything that’s on my mind, but I’m restricted because I have a gag order,” Trump said.

Facts FirstAs he has before, Trump made Merchan’s gag order sound far broader than it is. The gag order does not prohibit Trump from declaring the case a sham or from sharing others’ claims that the case is a sham. It also does not prohibit Trump from speaking to the media about the case, from defending his conduct at issue in the case, from denouncing the judge and district attorney involved in the case, or from campaigning for the presidency with speeches, media interviews and online posts. Rather, the gag order forbids Trump from three specific categories of speech:

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  1. Speaking publicly or directing others to speak publicly about known or foreseeable witnesses, specifically about their participation in the case
  2. Speaking publicly or directing others to speak publicly about prosecutors — other than Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg — including, staff members in Bragg’s office and the court, and their family members if those statements are made with the intent to interfere with the case
  3. Speaking publicly or directing others to speak publicly about jurors or prospective jurors

In his comments on Tuesday, Trump made the point that an article may have a certain headline that generally denounces the case but, “somewhere deep” in the body of the text, may mention somebody’s name he is not permitted to mention because of the gag order. It’s not clear how Merchan would view Trump having shared an article in which, say, a witness’s name was only mentioned deep in the text. To date, though, articles that prosecutors have alleged Trump violated the gag order by sharing featured headlines that made it entirely clear the articles discussed likely witness Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer. 



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