New York Judge Expands Gag Order Against Donald Trump in Hush Money Trial

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

The judge presiding over the New York hush money trial against Donald Trump just expanded the gag order that dictates what the former president can and cannot say about the case.

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan issued a ruling on Monday to limit Trump’s ability to speak out against his daughter, a Democratic political consultant.

On Tuesday’s show, Megyn was joined by attorneys Arthur Aidala and Mark Eiglarsh to discuss the gag order and whether or not it is fair.

The Gag Order

Last week, Trump went after Judge Merchan’s daughter, Loren Merchan, on his Truth Social platform. “Judge Juan Merchan is totally compromised, and should be removed from this TRUMP Non-Case immediately,” he posted last Thursday. “His Daughter, Loren, is a Rabid Trump Hater, who has admitted to having conversations with her father about me, and yet he gagged me.”

According to The New York Post, Loren is president of Authentic Campaigns, a Chicago-based political consulting group with progressive leanings. The firm’s clients include Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the lead prosecutor in the first Trump impeachment trial, and the Senate Majority PAC, a major Democratic Party fundraiser. Schiff and the PAC have reportedly raised some $90 million using the Trump case to solicit donors.

The connection has raised concerns that Judge Merchan has a conflict of interest. Trump’s legal team previously called for his recusal, but the jurist rejected the request. The GOP frontrunner’s lawyers have signaled they will file a new motion.

In the meantime, Merchan amended the gag order against Trump after Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg sent him a letter on Friday voicing concerns that prospective witnesses and jurors could fear retribution à la the forty-fifth president’s recent social media posts about Merchan’s daughter.

Merchan seemingly agreed. “This pattern of attacking family members of presiding jurists and attorneys assigned to his cases serves no legitimate purpose,” Merchan wrote in the ruling issued Monday night. “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.”

While the initial gag order in the case limited Trump’s public remarks about jurors, witnesses, and “family members of any counsel or staff member,” the updated version extends to the family of Merchan and Bragg.

Trump responded to the judge’s decision on Truth Social on Tuesday:

“I just was informed that another corrupt New York Judge, Juan Merchan, GAGGED me so that I can not talk about the corruption and conflicts taking place in his courtroom with respect to a case that everyone, including the D.A., felt should never have been brought. They can talk about me, but I can’t talk about them??? That sounds fair, doesn’t it? This Judge should be recused, and the case should be thrown out. There has virtually never been a more conflicted judge than this one. ELECTION INTERFERENCE at its worst!”

The former president is facing 34 counts related to illegally falsifying business records when reimbursing his former fixer, Michael Cohen, for making ‘hush money’ payments to porn star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election. Trump has pleaded not guilty, and the trial is set to begin April 15.

Is It Fair?

While Megyn said she could understand a gag order relating to minor children, she was less sure about Merchan’s adult daughter. “He shouldn’t be allowed to go after a judge’s minor children, but this woman is an adult and a professional political operative who makes her living getting people like Adam Schiff reelected,” she explained. “Why can’t he talk about that?”

In Aidala’s view, “witness tampering” is the “overall message” of Merchan’s ruling. “This is the guy who is the former president of the United States and could be the next president of the United States – that’s intimidation,” he explained. “It is the same as someone going into the coffee shop, sitting next to the witness… and [saying]… everyone knows where your family lives, but you make your own judgment.”

While Eiglarsh said the First Amendment allows Trump “a wide latitude… to spew outrageous and offensive stuff,” he saw where Merchan was coming from and believes this situation is best handled on appeal. “I’m a huge free speech advocate… [but] there are limits and… I can understand why the judge would want to do this,” he concluded. “If it runs afoul of the law, then the appellate court would say, ‘Hey, judge, you stepped over the line. Your daughter is fair game.’”

You can check out Megyn’s full Kelly’s Court with Aidala and Eiglarsh by tuning in to episode 755 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.