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Prosecutors Ask Judge to Fine Trump for Social Media Posts

Prosecutors Ask Judge to Fine Trump for Social Media Posts

Monday, 15 April 2024 01:31 PM EDT

Prosecutors asked the judge overseeing Donald Trump’s New York criminal trial to fine the former president $3,000 over three social media posts they say violated a gag order barring Trump from commenting on witnesses. The request came from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office midday Monday ahead of jury selection.

The gag order, imposed March 26, bars Trump from commenting publicly about witnesses, prosecutors, court staff and jurors.

It was later expanded to bar him from talking publicly about relatives of the judge and of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, though Trump is free to speak about the officials themselves. Trump’s attorneys are fighting the order in an appeals court.

Last week, Trump used his Truth Social platform to call two witnesses — his former lawyer Michael Cohen and the adult film actor Stormy Daniels — “two sleaze bags who have, with their lies and misrepresentations, cost our Country dearly!”

Prosecutors also called for Trump to be ordered to take down the “offending” posts.

“The defendant has demonstrated his willingness to flout the order. He’s attacked witnesses in the case,” said Christopher Conroy, one of the trial prosecutors.

One of Trump’s lawyers, Todd Blanche, maintained that the three posts in question don’t violate the gag order. He said Trump was just responding to the witnesses’ own public statements.

Judge Juan M. Merchan on Monday agreed to bar prosecutors from eliciting testimony to the effect that Donald Trump’s wife Melania was pregnant while former Playboy model Karen McDougal claimed to have had an affair with him.

Prosecutors can still tell jurors about alleged efforts to suppress McDougal’s story.

McDougal was paid $150,000 in 2016 by the parent company of the National Enquirer for the rights to her story about her alleged 10-month affair with Trump in the mid-2000s. Trump has denied any affair took place.

The charges in the case pertain only to $130,000 in payments made, through Trump’s then-lawyer Michael Cohen, to porn actor Stormy Daniels. She alleged a 2006 sexual encounter with Trump.

But prosecutors also plan to bring up McDougal’s claims and payment, arguing that it’s important context for what they have called a scheme “to influence the 2016 presidential election by identifying and purchasing negative information” about Trump.

Merchan on Monday also blocked playing of the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape, in which Trump described grabbing women sexually without their permission. But Merchan said prosecutors will be able to present internal campaign emails that Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglass said contained “powerful evidence of the campaign’s reaction to the incendiary language contained” in the video.

Shortly after court convened Monday, Trump’s attorneys asked Judge Juan M. Merchan to expand the already extensive questionnaire filled out by prospective jurors to weed out people who oppose the former president. Merchan declined the request, dismissing the notion that the jury questions were slanted to the benefit of prosecutors.

Over the coming days, the defense and the prosecution will both jockey for potential advantages as a jury pool of regular people is winnowed down to a panel of 12, plus six alternates.

“There is no asymmetry in the questionnaire when looked through the lens of what we’re trying to accomplish,” Merchan said. “This is by far the most exhaustive questionnaire this court has ever used,” he added.

Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


US
Prosecutors asked the judge overseeing Donald Trump's New York criminal trial to fine the former president $3,000 over three social media posts they say violated a gag order barring Trump from commenting on witnesses. The request came from the Manhattan District Attorney's...
trump, new york, trial, fine, social media
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2024-31-15
Monday, 15 April 2024 01:31 PM
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