Trump Complains About Gag Order as He Faces Tough Trial Insults

May 10, 2024 by Tom Ramstack
Trump Complains About Gag Order as He Faces Tough Trial Insults
Former President Donald Trump, his attorney Todd Blanche, right, and U.S. Sen Rick Scott, R-Fla., rear center, arrive for Trump's trial at Manhattan Criminal Court, Thursday, May 9, 2024, in New York. (Jeenah Moon/Pool Photo via AP)

WASHINGTON — The biggest action during Friday’s session of former President Donald Trump’s criminal trial in New York took place after witness testimony ended for the week with discussion of gag orders.

Defense attorneys asked the judge for a gag order against the prosecution’s main witness, Michael Cohen.

Cohen appeared on TikTok this week in a shirt with a photo of Trump in jail wearing an orange prison jumpsuit.

“It’s becoming a problem every single day that President Trump is not allowed to respond to this witness,” defense attorney Todd Blanche told the judge. “He has stated on social media that he is going to stop talking, and he doesn’t.”

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass said in response, “We’ve repeatedly, repeatedly asked the witnesses not to do that. The fact of the matter is, these witnesses are not subject to the gag order and we have no remedy if they engage in those activities.”

In addition, Stormy Daniels sent out a tweet Friday implying Trump was trying to hide something by refusing to testify.

“Real men respond to testimony by being sworn in and taking the stand in court. Oh … wait. Nevermind,” Daniels wrote.

Daniels is one of two women who allegedly received hush money from Trump to not disclose their sexual affair. Trump denies the allegations, along with accusations he paid the women money and falsified business records to cover up the payments.

Cohen is Trump’s former attorney who claims to have arranged the payments in exchange for nondisclosure agreements from the women. He is scheduled to take the witness stand on Monday.

Cohen referred to Trump in an April 22 tweet as “Von Schitzenpants.” 

“Hey Von ShitzInPantz … ,” Cohen wrote, “your attacks of me stink of desperation. We are all hoping that you take the stand in your defense.”

Trump’s attorneys said Cohen’s out-of-court insults of Trump could influence the jury as they asked for a gag order against him.

Judge Juan Merchan declined to issue a gag order but told prosecutors to warn Cohen again about his inflammatory statements.

Trump has a gag order against him that Merchan issued in March. It orders him not to publicly criticize witnesses, jurors or the court staff.

Trump complained about his inability to respond to accusations by Cohen and other critics as he left the courthouse Friday.

“They can say anything they want but I can’t say anything,” Trump said.

He also complained about the judge.

“If anything is even mentioned, he wants to put me in jail,” Trump said. “What he’s doing is so unconstitutional, there’s never been anything like it.”

Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty in 2018 to campaign finance violations, making false statements to Congress and tax evasion.

Most of the testimony before the weekend adjournment touched on phone records, copies of checks and emails that appear to confirm Trump participated in arranging the hush money payments and hiding them in business records by calling them “legal expenses.”

The four witnesses Friday included two paralegals who reviewed texts and other evidence, an AT&T telecommunications expert who verified Cohen’s phone records and a former presidential special assistant who said Trump often signed checks for his business enterprise without thoroughly examining them.

Prosecutors appeared to have called them to give jurors a glimpse of the kinds of issues Cohen will discuss next week.

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