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Former President Donald Trump at a news conference yesterday Alamy
inflammatory remarks

Judge issues gag order barring Donald Trump from commenting publicly on upcoming hush money case

Prosecutors had asked for the gag order citing what they called his ‘long history of making public and inflammatory remarks’.

A NEW YORK judge has issued a gag order barring Donald Trump from making public statements about witnesses, prosecutors, court staff and jurors in his upcoming hush money criminal trial.

Judge Juan M Merchan cited Trump’s previous comments about him and others involved in the case, as well as a looming 15 April trial date in granting the prosecution’s request for a gag order.

“It is without question that the imminency of the risk of harm is now paramount,” Merchan wrote.

Prosecutors had asked for the gag order citing what they called his “long history of making public and inflammatory remarks” about people involved in his legal cases.

The order also bars Trump from making or directing others to make public statements about people involved in the trial, but it does not apply to the Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg because he is an elected official.

The gag order adds to restrictions put in place after Trump’s arraignment last April that prohibits him from using evidence in the case to attack witnesses.

The trial, involving allegations related to hush money paid during Trump’s 2016 campaign to cover up marital infidelity claims, had been in limbo after his lawyers complained about a recent deluge of nearly 200,000 pages of evidence from a previous federal investigation into the matter.

Trump’s lawyers accused Bragg’s office of intentionally failing to pursue evidence from the 2018 federal investigation, which sent Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen to prison.

They contended prosecutors working under Bragg, a Democrat, did so to gain an unfair advantage in the case and harm Trump’s election chances.

Cohen, now a vocal Trump critic, is poised to be a key prosecution witness against his ex-boss.

Merchan bristled at the defence’s claims at a hearing on Monday, saying the DA’s office had no duty to collect evidence from the federal investigation, nor was the US attorney’s office required to volunteer the documents.

What transpired was a “far cry” from Manhattan prosecutors “injecting themselves in the process and vehemently and aggressively trying to obstruct your ability to get documentation”, the judge said.

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