Judge Hits Trump With New Restrictions After He Goes After The Judge’s Daughter

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Judge Juan Merchan, who is handling former President Donald Trump’s local criminal case in New York City, has expanded the gag order that restricts Trump’s public commentary after the former president and defendant began targeting a daughter of the judge, complaining about her purported political activities.

Trump looped the woman, who is not involved in the case, into his familiar accusations of bias against him, spurring worries as he even named her online of potential safety concerns. Trump was already blocked from making a range of public attacks on jurors (both prospective and actual), witnesses, and others. Prosecutors both asked for the original gag order and then asked for additional action by the judge after Trump started targeting his daughter. Highly public attacks on such figures could have an intimidating effect in other groups, including individuals who were already protected, even if Trump isn’t technically naming them.

“This pattern of attacking family members of presiding jurists and attorneys assigned to his cases serves no legitimate purpose,” the judge said, as highlighted by The Guardian. “It merely injects fear in those assigned or called to participate in the proceedings, that not only they, but their family members as well, are ‘fair game.'” Also covered by the newly expanded restrictions are family members of lawyers and court staff, including specifically District Attorney Alvin Bragg himself, the elected prosecutor responsible for the case. (Trump can still discuss Bragg.)

The case accuses Trump of falsifying business records in connection to hush money from before the 2016 elections, and it’s hurtling towards an expected trial in the middle of this month after the judge rejected recent accusations from the Trump team that prosecutors mishandled their end of the discovery process, meaning routine procedures ahead of trial for assembling evidence relevant to the proceedings. It will be Trump’s first trial among four criminal cases, with scheduling for the other proceedings still uncertain.