Trump fights proposed hush-money trial gag, argues 'tens of millions of Americans' want to hear his views about the case

Trump fights proposed hush-money trial gag, argues 'tens of millions of Americans' want to hear his views about the case
  • Trump's NY hush money prosecutors worry he'll incite attacks on witnesses, jurors, and court staff.

  • On Monday, Trump's lawyers filed papers opposing DA Alvin Bragg's request for a limited gag order.

  • The defense says that "tens of millions of Americans" want to hear his take on the March 25 trial.

"Tens of millions of Americans" want to hear what former President Donald Trump has to say about his upcoming "hush money" trial in New York, his lawyers argued Monday in papers opposing the district attorney's proposed limited gag order.

Manhattan prosecutors want the GOP frontrunner barred from making remarks that could incite attacks on witnesses, jurors, and court staff.

The First Amendment protects not only speech but those who listen to the speech, his lawyers argue in the new filing to the trial judge, state Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan.

The proposed gag would harm not only Trump, but all those who wish "to listen to President Trump's campaign speech," the filing by defense lawyers Susan Necheles and Todd Blanche says.

"A restriction on President Trump's speech therefore inflicts a 'reciprocal' injury on the tens of millions of Americans who listen to him," it says.

"American voters have the First Amendment right to hear President Trump's uncensored voice on all issues that relate to this case," it says.

"President Trump's political opponents have, and will continue to, attack him based on this case," it adds.

"Neither the First Amendment nor the New York Constitution permits the government 'to license one side of a debate to fight freestyle, while requiring the other to follow Marquis of Queensberry rules,'" says, quoting case law from 1992.

The judge and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg have contended that Trump remains at liberty to say anything he wants to about the case — they just don't want him inciting attacks, something the judge warned the former president about at his arraignment nearly a year ago.

Prosecutors' gag request cites scores of citations from Trump's social media and speeches, in which he "attacks individuals that he considers to be adversaries."

The proposed gag is tailored after a gag order in his Washington, DC, election interference case that has already been upheld by a federal appellate court, the DA's request argues.

Manhattan prosecutors allege Trump falsified 34 Trump Organization business records to hide a $130,000 hush money payment to porn actor Stormy Daniels. Trump pleaded not guilty.

The payment, footed by Trump's then-personal attorney, Michael Cohen, silenced Daniels weeks before the 2016 election. But instead of being recorded as a campaign expenditure, it was illegally disguised as a series of legal fees to Cohen, prosecutors say.

In Monday's filing, the defense further argues that Trump has not incited attacks on witnesses, prospective jurors, and court staff. The judge's verbal warning against doing so, made during Trump's arraignment a year ago, has been sufficient, they argue.

Trump's lawyers sent the judge a separate filing Monday focused on Bragg's request for an anonymous jury. They argue that Trump and his defense team need to know the identities of potential jurors in order to prepare for jury selection effectively.

"The people do not cite a single public statement by President Trump since May 2023 that addressed, positively or negatively, the potential venire in this case," Necheles and Blanche wrote, using the legal term for prospective jurors.

"The People do not identify a single example where President Trump mentioned — let alone attacked or harassed — any juror by name," they add.

Merchan has not said when he will rule on the proposed gag order and on juror anonymity.

Read the original article on Business Insider