Gag order: Trump in big trouble after attacks on NY judge's daughter

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Trump campaign slams New York judges expansion of gag order. — Reuters/File
Trump campaign slams New York judge's expansion of gag order. — Reuters/File

Donald Trump's gag order in the criminal hush money case was expanded Monday by Justice Juan Merchan following the former president’s online attacks on the New York judge’s daughter, the BBC reported.

The expanded gag order prohibits Trump, 77, from criticising Merchan’s or Manhattan prosecutor Alvin Bragg's family, a move the Trump campaign has deemed "unconstitutional".

Trump's lawyers strongly opposed the gag order expansion on Monday, saying it would violate his free speech rights.

Trump denies concealing hush money payments to an adult film actress ahead of the 2016 election.

Last week, the original order prohibited Trump from attacking court staff, jurors, and witnesses but Bragg insisted that restriction should be widened following the Republican presidential candidate's singling out of the judge's daughter, Loren Merchan.

In a Truth Social post last week, Trump called Justice Merchan's daughter a "Rabid Trump Hater" who "admitted to having conversations with her father about me, and yet he gagged me".

He has also claimed that Loren "makes money by working to 'Get Trump'", accusing her of sharing social media posts that showed him behind bars.

A New York state court system spokesperson denied Trump's claim and stated that a social media account used to make the posts no longer belonged to Loren, who runs a digital marketing agency that works with Democratic candidates among other clients.

In his ruling, Justice Merchan wrote that "it is no longer just a mere possibility or a reasonable likelihood that there exists a threat to the integrity of the judicial proceedings. The threat is very real."

He acknowledged that Trump had the "constitutional right to speak to the American voters freely, and to defend himself publicly".

However, he emphasised that such attacks "serve no legitimate purpose".

"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' for Defendant's vitriol," the judge wrote.

Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung slammed the judge's order, saying: "The voters of America have a fundamental right to hear the uncensored voice of the leading candidate for the highest office in the land.”

The former president has made attacks on judges, prosecutors and court staff involved in his cases.