Defense asks hush-money judge to allow Trump to continue verbally harassing judge’s daughter

Donald Trump’s lawyers have made an unusual request in his hush-money case. They are seeking affirmation from state Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan that the recent gag order allows Trump to continue verbally criticizing the judge’s progressive daughter. This request is seen as extraordinary, as it challenges the limitations set by the gag order.

In a two-page letter, President Trump asks Judge Merchan a crucial question: Can you inform prosecutors that I have the right to continue criticizing your daughter?

On Tuesday, Trump wasted no time and immediately went on Truth Social to launch an attack on the judge and his daughter, Loren Merchan, a Democratic political consultant.

The GOP frontrunner expressed his frustration over a recent incident where the judge’s daughter shared a photo of him behind bars. He referred to it as her apparent intention. However, court officials later confirmed that the social media account responsible for the post was a hoax.

In response to Trump’s criticisms of Loren Merchan, prosecutors expressed their frustration to the judge by describing Trump’s attacks as “contumacious,” indicating a willful disregard for authority.

Prosecutors have sought permission to file a motion formally asking the judge to “clarify or confirm” that the gag order issued on Tuesday provides protection for the family members of the Court, the District Attorney, and all other individuals mentioned in the order.

The motion they filed requests the judge to instruct the defendant to immediately cease any further attacks on family members.

According to prosecutor Joshua Steinglass, if Trump continues to use “invective,” it could lead potential trial witnesses and prospective jurors to fear similar attacks.

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“In the process of getting ready for the trial, the People have received serious concerns from several potential witnesses regarding their safety and the safety of their family members if they were to testify against the defendant,” Steinglass expressed.

In response to the situation, Trump’s legal team issued a statement on Friday reaffirming his stance on criticizing Loren Merchan. They maintained that the existing gag order explicitly permits making statements about the judge’s family.

In his response letter written by his lead hush-money lawyers, Susan Necheles and Todd Blanche, Trump firmly stated that no “clarification” is required.

The letter stated that the Court cannot oblige President Trump to take action that is not mandated by the gag order, despite the People’s suggestion.

The gag order restricts individuals from making statements about witnesses, jurors, trial prosecutors, and court staff, as well as the families of prosecutors and court staff. However, it does not prohibit statements about the judge or the judge’s family members.

Similarly, the gag bars any remarks concerning the staff members of District Attorney Alvin Bragg and their families. However, it does not explicitly shield Bragg himself or his family members.

The defense argued that if Merchan were to confirm that his own family members are included in the coverage, as the prosecutors desire, it would actually be an expansion rather than a clarification of the gag order, according to the defense.

Inviting lengthy arguments over First Amendment constraints against prior restraint of speech, the defense threatened that it would open a whole new legal can of worms.

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In a defense letter sent on Friday, it was mentioned that if the Court intends to explore the possibility of expanding prior restraints, it is crucial to provide a fair chance for comprehensive adversarial briefing. The letter emphasized the sensitivity surrounding such restraints.

According to the defense, it is crucial to provide a thorough briefing in light of the fact that Merchan’s daughter is actively endorsing the campaign speeches of President Trump’s political rivals.

Loren Merchan is a key player in the operations of Authentic Campaigns, a progressive consulting firm based in Chicago. This firm has been instrumental in managing campaigns for prominent figures such as Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, and California Governor Gavin Newsom.

Now it’s up to Merchan to decide the next move in the battle over Trump’s hush-money gag order.

With the trial start date of April 15 approaching, Merchan is faced with a difficult decision. He must decide whether to prioritize the safety of his daughter or risk getting involved in a lengthy legal battle over prior restraint.

He has the option to either expand or clarify the gag order in order to provide protection to family members and prevent any additional motions on the subject.

It remains uncertain if and when he will agree to the prosecutors’ request for a complete exchange of motions regarding the necessity of a “clarification” of the gag.

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