The Judge Cracks Down

For months, Donald Trump’s lawyers have approached his legal cases with performative aggression and a pugilistic style, peppering judges with mountains of motions, many of them filled with far-fetched claims. And the former president himself has often been a disruptive presence at the courthouse and on social media, going after witnesses, prosecutors and even the relatives of judges.

Justice Juan Merchan, who is overseeing Trump’s upcoming hush-money trial in Manhattan, made it clear this week that he’s having none of it.

After firing a few warning shots across the Trump team’s bow, Merchan imposed a gag order on the former president on Tuesday, barring him from attacking any witnesses, jurors or prosecutors serving on the case.

Under the order, Trump cannot make, or direct others to make, statements about witnesses’ roles in the case. He is also barred from commenting on prosecutors, court staff and their relatives if he intends to interfere with their work on the case, or about the jurors in his case.

Merchan cited the “threatening, inflammatory, denigrating” statements Trump has made about grand jurors, prosecutors and others. To enforce such an order, judges typically impose fines and in extraordinary circumstances can send someone to jail.

The judge also ordered Todd Blanche, Trump’s pugnacious defense attorney, and his partners on the case to stop seeking to delay the trial by filing additional motions without first asking permission, warning there could be consequences.

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