Appeals court denies Trump request to lift gag order in hush money case

ByAaron Katersky ABCNews logo
Tuesday, June 18, 2024

New York's highest court on Tuesday declined to take up a challenge to the limited gag order imposed on former President Donald Trump by the judge who oversaw his criminal hush money trial.

The New York Court of Appeals rejected Trump's appeal "upon the ground that no substantial constitutional question is directly involved."

Judge Juan Merchan prohibited Trump from discussing witnesses, jurors and others associated with his criminal trial, which ended in a conviction last month. The judge himself and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg were exempt.

An intermediate appellate court upheld the gag order, finding Merchan "properly weighed petitioner's First Amendment Rights against the court's historical commitment to ensuring the fair administration of justice in criminal cases and the right of persons related or tangentially related to the criminal proceedings from being free from threats, intimidation, harassment, and harm."

Trump has separately sought to lift the gag order ahead of his July 11 sentencing. Bragg said it should remain in place through sentencing.

"President Trump and his legal team will continue to fight against the unconstitutional Gag Order imposed by Justice Merchan," Steven Cheung, a Trump campaign spokesman, said in a statement to ABC News on Tuesday. "The Gag Order wrongfully silences the leading candidate for President of the United States, President Trump, at the height of his campaign. The Gag Order applies only to President Trump and not to any of his political opponents, critics, or even Crooked Joe Biden. The Election Interfering Gag Order violates the First Amendment rights of President Trump and all American voters, who have a fundamental right to hear his message."

A spokeswoman for the Manhattan district attorney's office declined to comment.

A jury found Trump guilty on all 34 felony counts of falsifying business records related to a 2016 hush money payment to Stormy Daniels, an adult film actress, in order to boost his electoral prospects in the 2016 presidential election.

It marks the first time in history that a former U.S. president has been convicted on criminal charges.

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