Trump to face court in hush money case – so judge can warn him about Truth Social ranting

Trump was put under protective order after taking aim at Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and Judge Juan Merchan when he was charged with 34 felonies last month

Rachel Sharp
Tuesday 23 May 2023 13:04 BST
Donald Trump arrested: A president surrenders | On The Ground

Donald Trump will make a virtual appearance in court today for the second hearing in his landmark criminal hush money case – so that a New York judge can warn him about posting evidence on social media.

The former president will appear via video in Manhattan Criminal Court on Tuesday afternoon where Judge Juan Merchan can make sure he understands the terms of the protective order issued in the case.

The judge imposed the order after Mr Trump took aim at Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and Judge Merchan himself after being charged with 34 felonies for falsifying business records during the 2016 race for the White House.

The order, issued on 8 May, bars Mr Trump and his attorneys from publishing information in the case and the names of certain Manhattan DA personnel that is not already public once the information is handed over to his legal team.

It even limits Mr Trump’s access to some of the information – with some evidence only to be shared with Mr Trump while he is in the presence of his attorneys and the former president banned from making copies, photographing or transcribing the documents.

While Mr Trump’s legal team have slammed the order – claiming it is “a muzzle” on the former president – Judge Merchan stopped short of issuing a gag order, meaning it does not bar Mr Trump from speaking about the case.

While his lawyers and prosecutors in the case must appear in person, Mr Trump can join remotely – avoiding the sensationalism and heightened security when he surrendered to New York authorities back on 4 April and became the first US president in American history to ever be arrested and charged with a crime.

Though he can avoid showing up in person, the judge is taking the extra step of personally instructing Mr Trump about the terms of the protective order – after he made a series of social media posts attacking the investigation, Judge Merchan and DA Bragg.

In a historic day for America, Mr Trump was arrested and arraigned on 34 criminal charges in New York on 4 April.

According to Manhattan prosecutors, Mr Trump and his former fixer and attorney Michael Cohen carried out a “catch and kill” scheme in the lead-up to the 2016 election.

Cohen allegedly made hush money payments on Mr Trump’s behalf to suppress negative information about him by silencing individuals over alleged affairs he had with women.

Trump in court for his arraignment on criminal charges on 4 April
Trump in court for his arraignment on criminal charges on 4 April (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Mr Trump “repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York business records to conceal criminal conduct that hid damaging information from the voting public during the 2016 presidential election,” the charging documents read.

Three specific alleged affairs and hush money payments were mentioned in the charging documents – a $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels, a $150,000 to former playboy model Karen McDougal and a $30,000 payment to a doorman at Trump Tower who claimed he had information that Mr Trump had fathered a child with a woman while married to Melania Trump.

Mr Trump then allegedly reimbursed Cohen but falsely recorded the payments as legal fees.

Each of the 34 criminal charges relates to an individual entry in the Trump Organization’s business records.

Cohen has already served jail time for his part in the hush money case and has now become prosecutor’s star witness in the case against Mr Trump.

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