In a first in U.S. history, a presidential candidate in an election campaign will be forbidden to defend himself from political accusations pertaining to a criminal trial.
Former President Donald Trump has been restricted from publicly posting about certain evidence in the criminal hush money case against him on social media, according to an order issued by New York State Judge Juan Merchan.
The order largely grants a request from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, which limits what Trump can disclose publicly about the new evidence from the prosecution before the case goes to trial.
“Donald J. Trump has a longstanding and perhaps singular history of attacking witnesses, investigators, prosecutors, trial jurors, grand jurors, judges, and others involved in legal proceedings against him, putting those individuals and their families at considerable safety risk,” the DA’s office argued in a court filing last month.
“Defendant has a constitutional right to speak publicly about this case, and the People do not seek to infringe upon that right,” their filing said.
Trump’s lawyers argued in a filing last week that the DA’s proposed order would infringe upon his Constitutional rights.
“The People’s Proposed Protective Order infringes upon President Trump’s First Amendment right to freely discuss his own character and qualifications for federal office and the First Amendment rights of the American people to hear President Trump’s side of the story,” it said.
The order prohibits anyone with access to the evidence being turned over to Trump’s team from disseminating or disclosing the material to third parties, including social media platforms, without prior approval from the court.
Trump’s lawyers and the district attorney’s office have not yet commented on the ruling. Trump has been charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records related to hush money payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels and another woman towards the end of his 2016 presidential campaign to prevent them from speaking about their allegations of affairs with him.
He has pleaded not guilty and has maintained that the judge and Bragg are biased against him. Trump’s lawyers have also sought to have the case transferred to federal court, but the request is still pending.