Judge Denies Trump’s Bid to Lift Gag Order in Hush Money Trial

The criminal trial related to hush money payments has been denied by Judge Juan Merchan, who cited concerns about protecting witnesses and the integrity of the proceedings.

Trump’s lawyers argued that since adult film actress Stormy Daniels had finished testifying, the gag order should be lifted to allow Trump to respond to her testimony. However, Judge Merchan denied the motion, expressing apprehension about potential “attacks” on witnesses like Daniels.

The gag order, for which Trump has already been fined $10,000 for violating, aims to safeguard witnesses, jurors, court staff, and their families.

During Thursday’s proceedings, Daniels returned to the witness stand for further cross-examination, facing questions about alleged inconsistencies in her accounts of a 2006 encounter with Trump and her career as an adult entertainer. Despite intense questioning, Daniels maintained composure in her testimony.

After Daniels’ testimony concluded, Trump’s lawyer Todd Blanche requested lifting the gag order, claiming Daniels’ story differed significantly from previous accounts and asserting that Trump needed to respond to public comments about her testimony.

Assistant District Attorney Christopher Conroy countered by accusing the defense team of living in an “alternate reality,” emphasizing the importance of maintaining the order to protect the trial’s integrity and future witnesses from potential risks.

Judge Merchan remained skeptical of the defense’s claims regarding Daniels’ testimony differences and ultimately upheld the gag order.

This decision follows Judge Merchan’s recent threat to jail Trump for violating the gag order, which included a $10,000 fine for multiple breaches. The judge emphasized the need to protect the justice system’s dignity and integrity amid ongoing trial disruptions caused by Trump’s remarks.

In addition to denying Trump’s mistrial requests based on Daniels’ testimony, Judge Merchan emphasized that the trial was not about proving the encounter’s occurrence but about assessing witness credibility.

The trial in Manhattan is ongoing as the legal battle continues.