In the Courts

Defense Attorney Tells Judge Gag Order Prevented Trump From Responding To Biden’s Comments On Trial

Defense attorney Todd Blanche said Thursday that the gag order prevented former President Donald Trump from responding to political attacks not only by witnesses, but also recent comments made by President Joe Biden.

Before turning to continued testimony from witnesses, Judge Juan Merchan weighed four more alleged violations of Trump’s gag order involving comments he made about witnesses and the jury. Blanche referenced Biden’s Saturday remarks during the White House Correspondents’ Dinner referencing Trump’s trial, noting the gag order prevents the former president from responding to them because it involved a witness, Stormy Daniels.

“Donald has had a few tough days lately,” Biden said Saturday. “You might call it stormy weather.”

Blanche displayed for the judge a number of posts former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, the prosecution’s star witness in the case, made attacking Trump that have been “inviting and almost daring” the former president to respond. Blanche also argued that the judge should “keep in perspective” events that took place before the gag order was issued, noting Cohen has been attacking Trump since the announcement of his campaign in 2022.

Prosecutor Christopher Conroy initially asked the judge on April 25 to hold Trump in contempt for four additional violations relating to comments he made about jurors and witnesses in interviews and outside the courtroom. Alleged violations include saying the jury is from an area that is “mostly all Democrat,” commenting on former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker’s testimony, talking about Cohen’s credibility in an interview with a Pennsylvania TV station and talking about Cohen to press outside the courtroom.

“This is the most critical time,” Conroy said Thursday, noting all four statements took place during the course of the trial.

Trump’s comments about Cohen relate to issues “at the heart of this proceeding,” he argued.

Merchan fined Trump $9,000 Tuesday for the first nine violations of his gag order. He warned Trump in the order that future violations may result in jail time.

Prosecutors first asked the judge to hold Trump in contempt and impose the maximum $1,000 fine for ten violations in a filing on April 18.

The gag order, which Merchan imposed late March, prevents Trump from making statements about witnesses, prosecutors other than the district attorney, court staff and jurors, as well as family members of the staff, district attorney or judge.

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Katelynn Richardson

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Katelynn Richardson
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