Trump barred from posting sensitive case evidence on social media
In a recent court appearance via video link, former US President Donald Trump was informed by Judge Juan Merchan that he is prohibited from posting sensitive evidence related to his criminal case on social media platforms. Trump is facing 34 counts of falsifying business records in connection with alleged hush money paid to adult film actress Stormy Daniels in 2016.
During the historic arraignment in Manhattan in April, Trump became the first former or sitting president to ever be charged with a crime. The judge’s decision prevents Trump from disclosing certain materials that the prosecution will provide to his defence team.
While appearing from Florida, Trump acknowledged that he had received a copy of the order. The 76 year old is permitted to post information already in the public domain and most evidence gathered by his own team. However, he is not allowed to disclose the names of some Manhattan district attorney employees involved in the case until the trial commences.
The protective order was signed by Judge Merchan earlier this month following a request from the prosecution, citing Trump’s history of attacking witnesses and the prosecutor, Alvin Bragg, on social media.
Trump’s legal team contested the protective order, arguing that it would impose an unprecedented “muzzle” on a presidential candidate. Trump’s lawyer, Todd Blanche, expressed concerns that the former president’s first amendment rights to free speech were being violated, reports Bangkok Post.
Judge Merchan emphasised that his ruling does not equate to a gag order and that Trump is still free to discuss the case and campaign for the presidency next year. The trial is scheduled to begin on March 25, which is likely to coincide with the Republican primaries for the 2024 presidential race.
The charges against Trump revolve around reimbursements made to his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, for the US$130,000 payment to Daniels shortly before the 2016 election. Prosecutors allege that the payment was intended to silence Daniels, who claims to have had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006, and that Trump concealed the true nature of the payments.
This criminal case is just one of several legal challenges that could potentially hinder Trump’s bid for the 2024 election. Other investigations include his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss in Georgia, alleged mishandling of classified documents from the White House, and his involvement in the storming of the US Capitol by his supporters on January 6, 2021.
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