Trump Lawyer Says Judge Won’t Impose Gag Order on Former President

Trump Lawyer Says Judge Won’t Impose Gag Order on Former President
Lawyer Joe Tacopina and former President Donald Trump in file photos. (Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images; Logan Cyrus/AFP via Getty Images)
Katabella Roberts
4/4/2023
Updated:
4/4/2023
0:00

Donald Trump’s attorney Joe Tacopina said on April 3 that there is no possibility that the judge in the alleged hush money case against the former president will place a gag order on him.

Tacopina made the comments in an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity following reports of a possible gag order being put on the 2024 presidential candidate, preventing him and his lawyers as well as witnesses from talking about the case in public.

Trump is scheduled to be arraigned at a Manhattan courthouse on Tuesday following his indictment on criminal charges in the probe into a $130,000 payment from his former personal attorney Michael Cohen to adult entertainment actress Stormy Daniels, during his 2016 campaign.

Cohen claims he was directed by Trump to arrange the payment to Daniels to buy her silence over an alleged affair with the former president, and that campaign funds were used to make the payment, in violation of campaign finance law.

Trump has denied wrongdoing as well as claims that he had an affair with Daniels.

Asked by Hannity on Monday whether there is a possibility that Judge Juan Merchan would “prevent a presidential candidate from using his free speech rights and defending himself,” Tacopina said that would not be the case.

Gag Order ‘Won’t Happen’

“No,” Tacopina responded. “Can’t be. Won’t happen. I don’t believe anyone is even looking for that. That would really set ablaze the passions and the tempers that already have been inflamed by this case. People view this as a political persecution.”

Gag orders are common in criminal cases and, if issued against Trump, would prevent any information or comment regarding the case from being made public or passed onto any unauthorized third party.

Defendants who violate a gag order in New York risk being held in criminal contempt, a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail, although they will typically be warned by judges before such a citation is issued.

If Merchan were to impose a gag order on Trump, the Republican candidate could potentially appeal the order, arguing it undermines his First Amendment right to free speech as he runs for president.

Tacopina on Monday pointed to Trump’s growing popularity among Republican primary contenders in multiple polls and said Americans are increasingly becoming “infuriated” with the case against Trump, which is being bought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

‘Weaponization of the Justice System’

“They are now understanding that the weaponization of the justice system is a real thing. Attempting to gag a United States citizen that is a defendant, not a lawyer, not a litigant but a defendant in the case, especially—that’s a First Amendment violation obviously. It has to be balanced against a right to a fair trial,” he said.

“But imagine putting a gag on Donald Trump when he’s the frontrunner for the Republican Party for the presidential office,” he said. “Imagine during the campaign he’s told, you know, ‘I can’t speak about the case.’ When people ask him questions, he has to just say, ’sorry, I have a gag order.' Obviously, that’s not going to happen,” Tacopina said.

The attorney added that a gag order on Trump runs the risk of directly interfering with the 2024 election and that there is “no scenario where that is going to happen.”

“I’m sure of that. I don’t think that will even be requested,” the attorney said.

Trump is scheduled to appear for his arraignment hearing at 2:15 p.m. ET on Tuesday. Tacopina told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Monday that he plans to file a motion to dismiss the charges against Trump, which still remain sealed ahead of the hearing.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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