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New York DA wants gag order in Donald Trump hush money case to protect potential witnesses, jurors

A New York prosecutor in the hush-money case against Donald Trump asked a judge Monday to impose restrictions against commenting on prosecutors, potential witnesses or jurors in the case headed to trial March 25.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's team said in the filing that Trump has “a long history of making public and inflammatory remarks” about people involved in other litigation. Prosecutors filed dozens of pages of screen shots of social media posts to accompany the motion.

Trump opposed gag orders in two other cases by arguing they would muzzle the former president while campaigning for the White House. But restrictions in two other cases were upheld on appeal.

Bragg's team asked state Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan, who is presiding over the case, to impose the order. Prosecutors asked for restrictions against Trump commenting on potential witnesses, prosecutors other than the district attorney, court staffers, relatives of the lawyers or staffers, or potential jurors.

“Defendant has a long history of making public and inflammatory remarks about the participants in various judicial proceedings against him, including jurors, witnesses, lawyers, and court staff,” wrote Michael Colangelo, an assistant district attorney. “Those remarks, as well as the inevitable reactions they incite from defendant’s followers and allies, pose a significant and imminent threat to the orderly administration of this criminal proceeding and a substantial likelihood of causing material prejudice.”

Former President Donald Trump speaks to the media as he arrives to testify for his civil business fraud trial at New York Supreme Court on Monday, Nov. 6, 2023 in New York City, NY. Mandatory
Former President Donald Trump speaks to the media as he arrives to testify for his civil business fraud trial at New York Supreme Court on Monday, Nov. 6, 2023 in New York City, NY. Mandatory

Bragg models gag order on federal restrictions

Gag orders in two other cases were largely upheld on appeal. New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron, who presided over a civil fraud case, and U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is presiding over his criminal case on charges he tried to steal the 2020 election, each set restrictions on Trump commenting about government lawyers and witnesses – and jurors in the federal case.

Engoron, who had a bomb threat at his house, fined Trump a combined $15,000 for social media posts about his clerk that falsely claimed she was Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's girlfriend. Chutkan has received death threats.

Bragg said he modeled his request after Chutkan’s order, which was upheld at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

More: As Donald Trump's trials heat up, here's a guide to the major lawsuits.

Former President Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen leaves Trump's civil fraud trial at New York State Supreme Court on October 24, 2023 in New York City. Cohen is expected to testify against the former president. Trump may be forced to sell off his properties after Justice Arthur Engoron canceled his business certificates and ruled that he committed fraud for years while building his real estate empire after being sued by Attorney General Letitia James, seeking $250 million in damages. The trial will determine how much he and his companies will be penalized for the fraud.

What has Trump said in social media posts about his cases?

Trump is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records to pay hush money to two women before the 2016 election, adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who claimed to have had sex with him.

Among Trump’s social media posts cited in the motion were references to witnesses including “Stormy ‘Horseface’ Danials (sic)” and “a convicted felon, disbarred lawyer, with zero credibility,” an apparent reference to his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

During a trial of Republican activist Roger Stone, Trump posted messages calling the jury foreperson “so tainted” and “totally biased.” The foreperson continued “to face harassment, threats, and vitriolic public criticism” months after the trial, according to Bragg's filing. Stone was convicted of making false statements to Congress and pardoned by Trump.

“Defendant has also acknowledged – and reports have confirmed – that his public attacks have incited his supporters to engage in their own misconduct, yet defendant has refused to moderate his comments to prevent such harms,” Colangelo said in the filing, citing Trump’s comments on a CNN Town Hall on May 11, 2023.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: New York DA Alvin Bragg wants gag order in Donald Trump criminal trial