President Trump’s campaign said a gag order from the New York judge handling his case would be a “tyrannical, Third World country move.”
Some legal scholars have speculated that Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan will place the former president — and leading 2024 GOP presidential candidate — under a gag order, forbidding him to speak of the charges.
“President Trump stands for transparency and our American Constitution, and any attempt to prevent him, the leading candidate for President, from exercising his First Amendment right is a tyrannical, third-world country move which further proves that this is nothing more than a political witch-hunt utilizing a weaponized justice system,” said a Trump campaign spokesperson.
“All Americans should be concerned about their rights being violated and any attempt to obstruct President Trump’s right to use his voice in order to speak truth to power should never be tolerated. The whole targeted crusade is a complete political farce by the Manhattan DA meant to manipulate and interfere with an election against President Trump and his supporters,” the spokesman said.
A gag order on Mr. Trump could be broad or narrowly tailored, as some experts have suggested, preventing the former president from disclosing certain evidence or attacking the prosecution.
Mr. Trump is expected to appear before Justice Merchan on Tuesday at 2:15 pm for an arraignment.
The indictment, which was brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, is expected to include more than 30 charges. It has remained under seal and is expected to be revealed Tuesday.
Early reporting suggests the former president will be indicted on fraud charges stemming from a $130,000 hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016 to prevent her from accusing him of an affair years earlier. Mr. Trump has denied the affair.
Legal scholars said any type of gag order may be unlawful against Mr. Trump and run afoul of the First Amendment.
“Gag orders generally protect a defendant’s 6th Amendment right to a fair trial and defendants still have their First Amendment rights,” said Mike Davis, president of the Article III Project that advocates for a conservative judiciary. “A gag order against President Trump would clearly be unconstitutional and it’s un-American for a judge to gag a presidential candidate facing a bogus political prosecution.”
Under New York law, violating a gag order is considered to be contempt of court, which carries a $1,000 fine and up to 30 days in jail.
Enforcing the gag order also would be problematic. Mr. Trump has frequently bucked the advice of his attorneys and court orders in his other legal dramas. There is no expectation that he would adhere to the gag order in this legal battle if it were to be issued.