Trump Gag Order Is Relaxed Ahead of Presidential Debate

(Bloomberg) -- The gag order against Donald Trump in the New York hush-money case was largely lifted, giving the former president more leeway to criticize the proceedings as he campaigns for the White House.

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Justice Juan Merchan on Tuesday ruled that Trump could now talk about trial witnesses and jurors, though he’s barred from revealing jurors’ identities. A Trump spokesman said the full ban should have been lifted and that they will appeal the decision.

Merchan said “there is ample evidence to justify continued concern for the jurors,” who on May 30 found Trump guilty on all 34 felony counts of falsifying business records to hide a hush money payment to an adult film star before the 2016 election.

The ruling comes before the July 11 sentencing of Trump, who faces as much as four years in prison. The former president had pushed for the entire gag order to be lifted ahead of his debate showdown with President Joe Biden on Thursday. Trump claims without evidence that Biden is behind his four criminal prosecutions.

Trump has long railed against the gag order, saying that it prevents him from responding to public attacks against him by key witnesses in the case, particularly his former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen and the porn star who got the payout, Stormy Daniels. Merchan has routinely rejected those arguments and fined him $9,000 in April for violating the gag order.

Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung blasted the decision for leaving in place portions of the “unconstitutional” gag order.

“This is another unlawful decision by a highly conflicted judge, which is blatantly un-American as it gags President Trump, the leading candidate in the 2024 Presidential Election during the upcoming Presidential Debate on Thursday,” Cheung said in a statement.

Merchan also said Trump still can’t talk about court staff and their family members.

--With assistance from David Voreacos.

(Adds plan to appeal in second paragraph)

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