Trump Just Made Huge Point About ‘Unconstitutional’ Gag Order in His NYC Case

Donald Trump got the judge in his Manhattan case to reply to his complaint that the gag order imposed on him is “ridiculous” and puts him at a distinct disadvantage in his trial and his presidential campaign. Indeed, Trump averred, “I’m not allowed to testify because this judge, who is conflicted, has me under an unconstitutional gag order.” 


It’s unclear whether Trump meant that literally, theoretically, or meant that by holding his speech in the bullpen and waiting for a call from the dugout left him at such a disadvantage that if he ever considered taking the stand those considerations were benched for good. Any of these is a possibility. But his statement highlighted the message he wanted to send: this gag order is utterly bogus and unfair.

On Friday, Judge Juan Merchan, feeling the heft of the complaint, was forced to respond to the claim that Trump wasn’t “allowed to testify” because of the overly broad and unconstitutional gag order.

Merchan noted in his opening comments on Friday that there was a “misunderstanding” about his gag order that he wanted to clarify. “The order restricting extrajudicial statements does not prevent you from testifying in any way,” Merchan said. 

Later, Trump told reporters that he now understood that the gag order didn’t apply to his testimony, should he choose to take the stand. 

Trump told reporters later Trump, heading into another full day in the Manhattan courtroom, said he thinks the gag order is unconstitutional, though he understands it pertains only to comments outside of court.

“The gag order is not [about testifying]. The gag order stops me from talking about people and responding when they say things about me. We have people saying things about me, and I’m not allowed to respond,” Mr.Trump said.


Taking the stand is usually a bad idea for any defendant. 

Further, the judge said the gag order doesn’t limit what he can say on the stand. He didn’t say the other part — that he can circumscribe information presented to the jury as civil rights attorney Harmeet Dhillon noted to Megyn Kelly. 

     Related: Trump Is Gagged, but Only NOW Does the Judge Wag a Limp Finger at His Trial’s Biggest Trash Talkers

Dhillon told Kelly that the judge, for example, has already ruled out Trump’s legal team’s ability to present certain expert testimony on campaign finance law, which isn’t charged, but which is a key point in the prosecution’s theory of the case.

The silencing of Trump is hurting his campaign, his attorney argued on Thursday. “He can’t just say ‘no comment’ … when he is running for president, you honor,” Todd Blanche said. Prosecutors complained about four recent instances in which they claim Trump broke the gag order Judge Juan Merchan has imposed on the presidential candidate. 


Blanche produced 500 pages of evidence of mostly Michael Cohen trashing Trump on his podcast and TikTok videos. He argued that Trump should be able to respond because the statements go to Trump’s character, how he would lead the nation, and hurt his campaign.

“Part of his campaign takes place outside this courtroom,” Blanche argued. “Part of the campaign takes place in interviews, meetings with potential voters whether there is press present and on the campaign trail,” he said showing photos of Cohen tweets and highlights of his statements. He told Merchan that Michael Cohen “and guests he has on his podcast” repeatedly and “regularly”  ”attack” Trump. 

     Related: It’s Hard to Imagine a Worse Day for Stormy and the NYC Prosecutors in the Hush Trump Case

Blanche complained that, as a presidential candidate, Trump should be able to reply when his opponent, Joe Biden, brings up Stormy Daniels at the White House Press Association dinner. 

Blanche quoted Biden, “Donald Trump has had a few tough days lately. You might call it stormy weather.” Blanche continued, “Stormy weather was an obvious reference to Stormy Daniels.” 

Merchan replied, “You are saying he can’t respond to what President Biden said without saying Stormy, Stormy Daniels?”

“That’s exactly what I’m saying. He cannot respond without saying Stormy Daniels, your honor. He is not allowed to.”


What is becoming more clear is that Merchan is less and less concerned about Trump’s comments on Stormy Daniels and Michael Cohen, who have assailed Trump mercilessly in public for a year. But he’s waited so long to rule to exempt those two from his unconstitutional gag order that it will probably be too late when he finally gets around to it. They’ll be on the stand and the issue will be moot. 

On Friday, Trump paid $9,000 in fines for being found in contempt of the judge’s gag order for his previous statements. 

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