OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
New York state Judge Juan Merchan hit former President Donald Trump with a gag order on Monday night in the criminal hush money case, ruling the 45th president is restricted from posting about some evidence in the case on social media.
“Judge Juan Merchan largely sided with Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg by limiting what Trump can publicly disclose about new evidence from the prosecution before the case goes to trial,” NBC News reported.
The order says that “any materials and information provided by the People to the Defense in accordance with their discovery obligations … shall be used solely for the purposes of preparing a defense in this matter.”
The order adds that anyone with access to the evidence being turned over to Trump’s team by state prosecutors “shall not copy, disseminate or disclose” the material to third parties, including social media platforms, “without prior approval from the court.”
It also singles out Trump, saying he is allowed to review sensitive “Limited Dissemination Materials” from prosecutors only in the presence of his lawyers and “shall not be permitted to copy, photograph, transcribe, or otherwise independently possess the Limited Dissemination Materials.”
The judge’s order also restricts Trump from reviewing “forensic images of witness cell phones,” although his lawyers can show him “approved portions” of the images after they get permission from the judge.
Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 charges regarding allegations that he falsified business records related to adult film star Stormy Daniels’ hush-money case.
Trump was indicted by a Manhattan grand jury in a case involving his purported role in hush money payments to Daniels ahead of the 2016 election, allegedly to keep Daniels quiet about an affair the two of them had in 2006.
Famed attorney Alan Dershowitz also recently went after Bragg, saying he believes the Manhattan DA could be disbarred for his case against Trump.
Dershowitz told DW’s Tim Sebastian that while he does not support Trump politically, he believes the indictment Bragg brought against the former Trump is “absurd and politically motivated.” Dershowitz argued that Trump will not get a “fair trial in Manhattan” given the judges and prosecutors are elected, meaning those in New York all likely lean to the Left politically.
Dershowitz argued that things could get difficult for Bragg if he uses former Trump attorney Michael Cohen as a witness at the trial, which is scheduled to begin in December.
“I don’t think an indictment can actually come forward now after the comments made by [Robert] Costello,” the attorney said.
He said that “he has proved that the main witness is going to be a perjuring liar on the witness stand, and that puts the district attorney in a terrible position.”
“If he uses Cohen as a witness, he could actually lose his bar license. Putting a witness on the stand who you know is lying is unethical, and he has to know that Cohen will be lying. Or he tries the case without Cohen, which would be very difficult, or he does the right thing: he drops the case,” Dershowitz said.
Dershowitz made a similar argument late last month.
During an appearance on Fox News, Dershowitz argued that Bragg could face up to five years in prison if he is found guilty of leaking details of Trump’s indictment to the media.
Leaking grand jury testimony to the public is a Class E felony in New York and carries a prison sentence between one and five years.
Dershowitz also spoke about how having Michael Cohen as a witness could damage the district attorney.
Dershowitz said that it appears Bragg’s theory is that Trump should have disclosed why he paid for a non-disclosure agreement to Daniels, which would defeat the purpose of the non-disclosure agreement.