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Trump ‘kneels’ before Judge Merchan, requests gag order lifted to speak freely post conviction in New York


Florida – Former President Donald Trump recently stirred controversy with his claims that the FBI intended to harm him during the raid on his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida. These assertions led to special counsel Jack Smith seeking a gag order—a move vigorously contested by Trump’s defense, which even called for sanctions against the prosecutors. Now, with the special counsel’s gag order request rejected by the judge in the Florida case, Trump is challenging another gag order that restricts him from publicly commenting on certain aspects of his recent New York City hush money trial, where he was convicted of 34 felony charges.

Trump 'kneels' before Judge Merchan, requests gag order lifted to speak freely post conviction in New York

Donald Trump’s defense team, led by attorney Todd Blanche, submitted a letter to New York State Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan, requesting the lifting of the gag order initially placed to protect the integrity of the trial.

In the letter dated June 3 and revealed to the public recently, Blanche argues that the reasons for maintaining the gag order are no longer valid since the trial has concluded.

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“The stated bases for the gag order no longer exist now that a verdict has been reached,” the letter states, highlighting the end of the trial where Trump was found guilty of falsifying business records related to a payment to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels during his 2016 campaign.

The defense contends that continuing to enforce the gag order infringes on Trump’s First Amendment rights, especially as he remains a key figure in the 2024 presidential race.

During the trial, Trump was found in violation of this order on ten occasions, resulting in a total of $10,000 in fines. Despite these violations, his legal team is pushing for his right to unrestricted speech in the context of his ongoing political campaign, especially in light of upcoming events such as the first presidential debate scheduled for June 27.

First Amendment Concerns and Political Implications

Blanche’s appeal to lift the gag order also cites a need for Trump to engage freely in political discourse, particularly against comments made by political figures including President Joe Biden and others involved in the trial, like Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels themselves. The letter references the 1982 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Hartlage, which supports the view that government should not restrict political speech.

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The defense does not accept the initial validity of the gag order and has expressed intentions to challenge any lasting impacts it may have on Trump’s freedom of speech. “We do not concede that there was ever a valid basis for the gag order and reserves the right to challenge the irreparable First Amendment harms caused by the order,” Blanche wrote.

Despite his conviction, Trump has continued to criticize the fairness of his trial, labeling it “rigged” and a “witch hunt” and calling Judge Merchan a “conflicted judge.” However, the gag order explicitly does not restrict Trump from speaking about the judge.

Ongoing Restrictions and Future Sentencing

As the legal battles continue, the specifics of the gag order’s duration remain under scrutiny. Trump’s team anticipates its lifting, which they argue should naturally follow the trial’s conclusion. However, the New York State Court system has yet to provide clarity on this matter, maintaining only that the order is a matter of public record.

Check also: Legal experts doubt jail time for Trump, suggest age and legal precedent could influence sentencing outcomes in New York case

Trump is set to be sentenced on July 11, with many legal experts predicting that he will avoid a prison sentence due to the nonviolent nature of the offenses. As this legal drama unfolds, it underscores the complex interplay between law and politics, particularly when it involves high-profile figures like the former president.

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