OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Donald Trump and many mainstream media outlets he has frequently criticized have teamed up in an effort to push back on Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s attempt to limit public use of evidence in his hush money case against the former president.
As reported by NBC News, on Monday, a coalition of news organizations, including NBC News, sent a letter objecting to a proposed protective order from Bragg that would limit the use of evidence before trial, potentially leading to the sealing or redaction of certain items.
Trump’s attorneys said the former Oval Office occupant signed onto the letter Tuesday.
Citing the letter, Trump’s lawyers noted they also opposed “requiring the advance sealing or redaction of court filings or their exhibits in this case.”
“We similarly oppose any Order which would require any Party to seek consent from the opposing party before filing any motion in unredacted form on the public docket,” attorneys Susan Necheles, Joe Tacopina and Todd Blanche wrote to New York state Judge Juan Merchan, who has been assigned to oversee the trial.
The news organizations’ decision to oppose the protective order proposed by Bragg is a stark contrast to Trump’s frequent attacks on the media. During his presidency, Trump labeled the media as the “enemy of the people” and “fake news.”
He has continued to criticize journalists even after leaving office, particularly in relation to media coverage of the trial concerning hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels.
Earlier this week, Trump’s legal team also criticized Bragg’s proposed protective order, which seeks to prevent Trump from discussing certain evidence publicly, including on social media. In a statement, his lawyers called the request an “unprecedented and extraordinarily broad muzzle on a leading contender for the presidency of the United States” and argued that it would violate his First Amendment rights.
According to reports last month, Bragg’s office appealed to Merchan to limit Trump’s capacity to personally scrutinize the prosecution’s evidence against him without the presence of a lawyer.
Bragg’s office claimed that such a restriction would thwart the former president from divulging case particulars as he endeavors to regain the presidency in 2024.
“When 34 felony charges were unsealed against Mr. Trump earlier this month, prosecutors working for the district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, said they were working with the former president’s lawyers to come to an agreement as to how some case material — personal information of witnesses and evidence, including grand jury testimony — could be used,” The New York Times reported.
“But the opposing sides could not reach an agreement, and the prosecution’s request is now expected to be opposed by Mr. Trump’s lawyers. Ultimately it will fall to the judge in the case, Juan M. Merchan, to determine whether to limit Mr. Trump’s access and public comments in any way,” the report continued.
The prosecution was not pursuing a gag order to preclude Trump from discussing the case entirely, as Merchan has indicated he would not approve such an order at this stage, said the report. However, the prosecution’s appeal could restrict Trump’s capacity to exploit the evidence for political motives.
The motion, presented by Catherine McCaw, an assistant district attorney, marks an initial maneuver in what is projected to be a contentious and prolonged legal struggle between the two parties on numerous matters in the ensuing months, as the case advances toward a trial, the Times added.
“Mr. Bragg has accused the former president of orchestrating the cover-up of a $130,000 hush-money payment made to a porn star, Stormy Daniels, who agreed to keep quiet about her story of a sexual encounter with Mr. Trump. The payment was made by Mr. Trump’s former fixer, Michael D. Cohen, who is expected to become a crucial witness for prosecutors at trial,” the Times said, adding that a trial is not expected until next year — in the middle of Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign.
The newspaper said that McCaw referred to Trump’s widely recognized inclination to employ social media and public events to denounce those probing him in her plea to the judge.
She emphasized that Trump had already initiated such attacks, directing insults at several individuals implicated in the Manhattan case, comprising Bragg, Cohen, Daniels, and even Merchan himself, the paper added.