After Trump Calls Judge’s Daughter ‘a Rabid Trump Hater,’ Judge Expands Gag Order To Include His Own Family and Alvin Bragg’s

Judge Juan Merchan’s daughter, Loren, has worked as a Democratic operative and fundraiser for some of Mr. Trump’s greatest enemies, including Rep. Adam Schiff and Vice President Harris.

Steven Hirsch-pool/Getty Images
President Trump talks to attorney Susan Necheles during a pre-trial hearing in his hush money trial at Manhattan Criminal Court on February 15, 2024. Steven Hirsch-pool/Getty Images

The judge presiding over President Trump’s hush-money trial has expanded the gag order to include his family members after Mr. Trump repeatedly criticized the judge’s adult daughter, who has worked as a Democratic political consultant. The expanded gag order also includes family members of another of Mr. Trump’s enemies, the Manhattan district attorney.

“The Court’s Order of March 26,2024, did not contemplate the family members of this Court or of the District Attorney,” the New York State Supreme court judge, Juan Merchan wrote, granting the prosecution’s request for “clarification” on the existing order. 

Last week, Judge Merchan issued a limited gag order, prohibiting Mr. Trump from making public statements about the court staff, the attorneys, the jurors, the witnesses and their family members. He did not include himself, nor did he include the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, who brought the hush-money charges against Mr. Trump. 

In a furious response on social media, Mr. Trump attacked the judge’s daughter, Loren Merchan, a “Rabid Trump Hater”, who works as a political consultant and has campaigned and raised money for some of Mr. Trump’s most prominent antagonists, including Vice President Harris and the California congressman, Adam Schiff, who rose to national prominence as the lead prosecutor in Mr. Trump’s first impeachment trial and was later censured by the House for related misconduct. Mr. Trump accused Ms. Merchan of using a profile picture on her X account, which showed Mr. Trump’s face behind prison bars.  A spokesperson for the office of Court Administration, however, told the Associated Press that the X account was abandoned by Ms. Merchan approximately a year ago. Though not verified by the Sun, it appears that an unknown person added the offending profile picture of an imprisoned Mr. Trump and later swapped it out for a childhood picture of Ms. Harris.

Justice Juan Manuel Merchan is presiding over the case despite demands by the defense that he recuse himself. LinkedIn

On Saturday, the former president repeated his demands that the judge recuse himself in light of his daughter’s political involvement. Mr. Trump posted a link to a New York Post article on his Truth Social account, which included photographs of Ms. Loren, reporting that her client, whom he called “Slimeball Adam ‘Shifty’ Schiff,” and other Democrats had referred to the hush-money trial when they solicited donations.          

Mr. Bragg, whom Mr. Trump referred to as “lazy” over Easter Weekend, filed a letter last Wednesday, and an additional supplement filing on Monday, requesting that the judge expand the existing gag order to include the family members of the judge and of the district attorney. 

“Defendant’s dangerous, violent, and reprehensible rhetoric fundamentally threatens the integrity of these proceedings and is intended to intimidate witnesses and trial participants alike— including this Court,” lawyers for the district attorney’s office wrote on Monday. 

The defense pushed back, calling Mr. Trump’s comments “core political speech.” In their Monday filing, defense lawyers asked the court to reject the district attorney’s request, “which is already an unlawful prior restraint that improperly restricts campaign advocacy by the presumptive Republican nominee and leading candidate in the 2024 presidential election.” 

Loren Merchan, Judge Juan Merchan’s daughter, has worked as a Democratic operative. Facebook

“Under these circumstances,” the defense continued, “President Trump must be permitted to speak on these issues in a manner that is consistent with his position as the leading presidential candidate and his defense, which is not intended to materially interfere with these proceedings or cause harm to anyone.” 

The arguments that Mr. Trump’s rhetoric is not actually harmful, and that his social media postings don’t intend to hurt anyone, echoed the ones made by his defense attorneys against gag orders issued in other legal proceedings. A federal appeals court upheld a gag order in Mr. Trump’s federal election interference case in Washington. The judge in his recent New York civil fraud trial, Arthur Engoron, imposed a gag order after Mr. Trump attacked his principal law clerk, Allison Greenfield, whom he referred, to without substantiation, as “Schumer’s girlfriend,” among other calumny. In all cases, the prosecution cited various examples of objects of Mr. Trump’s opprobrium who received death threats after Mr. Trump had called them out on Truth Social.   

“It is no longer just a mere possibility or a reasonable likelihood that there exists a threat to the integrity of the judicial proceedings,” the judge wrote on Monday. “The threat is very real.”

“To argue that the most recent attacks,” the judge continued, referring to Mr. Trump’s posts about his daughter, “which included photographs, were ‘necessary and appropriate in the current environment,’ is farcical.” 

Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg, left, returns to court for a pre-trial hearing in a hash money case for former U.S. President Donald Trump in criminal court on March 25, 2024 at New York City. Mary Altaffer-Pool/Getty Images

“This pattern of attacking family members of presiding jurists and attorneys assigned to his cases serves no legitimate purpose,” he added. “It merely injects fear in those assigned or called to participate in the proceedings, that not only they, but their family members as well, are ‘fair game’ for defendant’s vitriol.”    

A violation of the gag order could result in fines for Mr. Trump. During the recent civil fraud trial, Judge Engoron slapped him with $15,000 for violating the gag order twice regarding Ms. Greenfield. His appeal of the ruling was denied by the highest court in the state, the Court of Appeals, in January. If Mr. Trump wishes to appeal it further, he has to take his arguments to the Supreme Court. 

Nonetheless, Mr. Trump’s defense attorneys in the New York criminal case wrote that they, too, would appeal this latest order. 


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