Trump Appeals to Remove Gag Order in Hush Money Case

Donald Trump has appealed the gag order in his hush money criminal case in New York to the state’s highest court.

So far, Trump has been fined $10,000 for violating the gag order, and the judge in the trial has also threatened to put him in jail if he continues doing so. He’s been found in violation of the order multiple times for commenting on jurors, witnesses and other people who are connected to the trial.

The appeal notice was filed by Trump’s legal team Wednesday, one day after a New York appellate court refused the team’s request to either modify or lift the restrictions.

The document is sealed and isn’t available for people to see. But, Steven Cheung, a spokesperson for Trump’s presidential campaign, said it’s a request for the Court of Appeals in New York to take the matter up.

In a statement, Cheung said:

“President Trump has filed a notice to appeal the unconstitutional and un-American gag order imposed by conflicted Judge Juan Merchan in the lawless Manhattan DA case. The threat to throw the 45th President of the United States and the leading candidate in the 2024 presidential election in jail for exercising his First Amendment rights is a Third World authoritarian tactic typical of Crooked Joe Biden and his comrades.”

On Tuesday, a five-judge panel of New York’s Appellate Division ruled that the judge “properly determined” that the public statements Trump made “posed a significant threat to the integrity of the testimony of witnesses and potential witnesses in this case as well.”

As the ruling read:

“We find that Justice Merchan properly weighed petitioner’s First Amendment Rights against the court’s historical commitment to ensuring the fair administration of justice in criminal cases, and the right of persons related or tangentially related to the criminal proceedings from being free from threats, intimidation, harassment and harm.”

On 10 different occasions, Trump has been held in contempt of court over violations of the order. He’s been fined $1,000 each time a violation has occurred. Merchan issued a warning to the former president last week, saying he’d put him in jail if he continued to violate the order.

The last violation involved Trump making comments about the jury’s political make-up. Merchan issued a written order May 6 that said the comments Trump made “not only called into question the integrity, and therefore the legitimacy of these proceedings, but again raised the specter of fear for the safety of the jurors and their loved ones.”

The gag order bars Trump from making statements about witnesses, or from directing others to do so. He also isn’t allowed to comment about staff of the court, the family of the judge or prosecutors aside from Alvin Bragg, the district attorney in Manhattan leading the case.

On Tuesday, he told reporters outside the courtroom:

“The gag order has to come off.”

Later that day, as reporters questioned him, he said:

“As you know, I’m under a gag order, so I can’t answer those very simple questions you’re asking me.”