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Trump gag order on statements about hush-money trial jurors and witnesses lifted

The names and address of Manhattan jurors who convicted Trump will remain under wraps, however.

MANHATTAN (CN) — The judge overseeing former President Donald Trump’s criminal case in New York modified a gag order on Tuesday, lifting restrictions that previously barred Trump from making public statements about witnesses and jurors in the hush money trial that led to his historic felony conviction.

While Manhattan Supreme Justice Juan Merchan loosened previous restrictions on Trump’s statements about the trial’s witnesses and jurors, he kept in place prohibitions against Trump making statements about prosecutors with the Manhattan DA's office, along with New York court staff and their families, until Trump’s sentencing on July 11.

“Until sentence is imposed, all individuals covered by Paragraph (b) must continue to perform their lawful duties free from threats, intimidation, harassment, and harm,” Merchan wrote in the 5-page decision.

Although the judge lifted a prohibition on Trump’s out-of-court statements about jurors, a pretrial order withholding the names and addresses of jurors from the public will remain in place.

“Nonetheless, there is ample evidence to justify continued concern for the jurors,” he wrote, referring to his March decree that the jurors’ names be kept secret to preserve their safety in such a polarizing proceeding. “Therefore, the protections set forth in this court's protective order of March 7, 2024, regulating disclosure of juror information will remain in effect until further order of this court,” he ordered.

Last week, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office urged Merchan to keep the gag order in place as to statements about the historic trial’s jurors.

“Defendant is wrong to claim that any public interest in protecting jurors expires with the end of the trial,” Bragg’s office wrote in a letter to the judge. “Moreover, since the verdict in this case, defendant has not exempted the jurors from his alarming rhetoric that he would have ‘every right’ to seek retribution as president against the participants in this trial as a consequence of his conviction because ‘sometimes revenge can be justified.’”

Although the jury remained anonymous throughout the trial, nonidentifying information about the makeup of individual jurors was made public during the public jury selection process, which resulted in the rare occurrence of two lawyers sitting on the panel.

In their letter last week, Manhattan prosecutors highlighted online posts threatening members of the district attorney's office with “We will kill you all” and “Your life is done.” There were also bomb threats at the homes of two people involved in the case; a threatening post disclosing a district attorney employee's address; and a post with sniper sights on people close to the case or their family members, according to prosecutors.

Last week, New York’s highest court declined to hear Trump’s appeal of the gag order in his criminal hush-money case.

Trump became the first president in U.S. history to be charged, and then convicted, of a crime, with a Manhattan jury finding him guilty on all 34 counts of falsifying business records on May 30. The jury found that Trump broke the law when he manipulated documents to cover up a scheme to illegally interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

Trump is set to debate President Joseph Biden on Thursday in Atlanta, where for the first time in U.S. history, a presidential candidate will have to answer questions about not only his status as a felon but also his slew of other legal troubles.

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Categories / Criminal, Politics, Trials

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