Judge expected to rule on gag order amid Donald Trump-Michael Cohen feud

ByJeremy Herb and Lauren del Valle, CNN
Wednesday, April 24, 2024
Judge set to announce ruling on Trump gag order
Judge Juan Merchan is expected to rule on whether to fine Donald Trump for repeatedly violating the gag order

NEW YORK -- Judge Juan Merchan is expected to rule on whether to fine Donald Trump for repeatedly violating the gag order barring the former president from publicly discussing witnesses or jurors in the criminal hush money case.

Merchan held a hearing Tuesday after the Manhattan district attorney's office filed a motion accusing Trump of repeatedly violating the gag order by posting on social media about his former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, as well as about the jury in his case.

Prosecutors want Merchan to fine Trump $1,000 per violation and to remind him that "future violations of this Court's restrictions on his extrajudicial statements can be punished not only with additional fines but also with a term of incarceration of up to thirty days."

"We think that it is important for the court to remind Mr. Trump that he is a criminal defendant," prosecutor Chris Conroy said last week. "And like all criminal defendants he's subject to court supervision."

Trump's feud with Michael Cohen

Trump has continued to feud with Cohen, his former attorney and a key witness for the prosecution in the case, and complained that Cohen has been posting about him and he's not allowed to respond. Trump nevertheless went after Cohen in remarks on camera after leaving court on Monday.

"The things he got in trouble for were things that had nothing to do with me. He got in trouble. He went to jail. This has nothing to do with me. This had to do with the taxicab company that he owned, which is just something he owned - and medallions and borrowing money and a lot of things - but it had nothing to do with me," Trump said of Cohen.

In an exclusive interview with Action News, Trump also called Cohen a "convicted liar."

Action News' Walter Perez speaks 1-on-1 with former President Donald Trump

Cohen responded on Twitter, saying, "Hey Von ShitzInPantz ... your attacks of me stink of desperation. We are all hoping that you take the stand in your defense."

Cohen served time in federal prison after pleading guilty to breaking federal campaign laws when he facilitated a $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels, which is directly linked to the charges against Trump. As for the taxi medallions that Trump referenced, Cohen was also sentenced for tax evasion related to a taxi medallion enterprise and lying to a bank in relation to a home loan.

Trump's lawyers have argued that his social media posts do not actually violate the gag order. Trump's attorney Emil Bove argued last week that Cohen had been attacking Trump in "connection to the campaign" and Trump's responses were related to the campaign.

Trump's lawyer Todd Blanche raised Cohen's comments about Trump in his opening statement Tuesday, accusing Cohen of being "obsessed" with bringing down Trump and noting that Cohen had posted about Trump as recently as the night prior.

"His entire financial livelihood depends on President Trump's destruction," Blanche said.

In court filings last week, prosecutors cited multiple posts from Trump on Truth Social, including posting a New York Post story that stated, "A serial perjurer will try to prove an old misdemeanor against Trump in an embarrassment for the New York legal system.'

The filing also noted that Trump posted a link about the jury last week: "'They are catching undercover Liberal Activists lying to the Judge in order to get on the Trump Jury,' Jesse Watters."

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