New York judge partially lifts Trump gag order in hush-money case

Donald Trump
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A judge partially lifted a gag order on Donald Trump in his hush-money case in New York, where he was found guilty of falsifying business records last month.

Trump is now allowed to make public comments about witnesses in the case and speak generally about jurors in his trial, Justice Juan Merchan wrote in a ruling on Tuesday.

The former president is still barred from speaking publicly about court staff, prosecutors and their families.

The identities of the jurors - kept secret due to the high-profile nature of the trial - will also remain protected, Justice Merchan said.

Trump has spoken out frequently against the gag order, which he claims is unconstitutional.

In a statement on Tuesday, his spokesperson called Justice Merchan's decision "another unlawful decision by a highly conflicted judge".

Justice Merchan first imposed a gag order on Trump in late March, but expanded it a week later after Trump attacked the judge’s daughter on social media.

Trump ultimately was fined thousands and threatened with jail time for violating the order during his trial.

His legal team asked that the full gag order be lifted after a New York jury found Trump guilty in May. He was convicted of falsifying business records to cover up a hush-money payment made to adult-film star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election.

Prosecutors did not object to lifting the part of the gag order that prevented Trump from commenting on witnesses.

The former president had made several social media posts attacking the prosecution’s star witness, his former lawyer, Michael Cohen.

Trump had argued that he was simply responding to attacks by Cohen, who had called him a host of names on social media.

He has also attacked Ms Daniels, the adult-film star at the centre of case, who has been known to insult Trump on X, formerly known as Twitter.

In a post on Tuesday, Ms Daniels said she had "nothing but respect for Judge Merchan" and said his decision to impose the gag order was "extraordinary but clearly justified given the defendant's uncontrollable daily rants".

She said she deferred to the judge on the decision to revoke part of the gag order.

As for the jurors, in his ruling, Justice Merchan said it would “be this Court's strong preference” to continue to bar Trump from speaking about the panel.

“[T]here is ample evidence to justify continued concern for the jurors,” he wrote.

But, he said, consistency in the courts required allowing Trump to make comments about jurors without revealing their identities.

During his trial, Trump was fined for comments he made criticising the 12-member panel, claiming they were “95%” Democratic.

The former president and presumptive Republican presidential nominee still is banned from speaking about prosecutors, court staff and their families, because even with a verdict rendered, their jobs are still not complete, Justice Merchan said.

“Until sentence is imposed, all individuals… must continue to perform their lawful duties free from threats, intimidation, harassment, and harm,” he wrote.

Trump is scheduled to be sentenced on 11 July. He is the first former president ever to be criminally convicted.