Former US President Donald Trump Faces New Rules in Criminal Case
New York, May 23: In an ongoing criminal case against former President Donald Trump, the judge is taking extra precautions to ensure that Trump is fully aware of the new rules that prohibit him from using evidence to attack witnesses. To avoid the extensive security measures and logistical challenges, Trump will not be required to appear in person at the Manhattan courthouse for the afternoon hearing, but instead will participate via video conference with his face displayed on courtroom TV monitors. Meanwhile, his lawyers and prosecutors will still be present physically.
Judge Juan Manuel Merchan has agreed to personally instruct Trump regarding the restrictions after outlining them on May 8 in what is referred to as a protective order. While Trump is permitted to discuss the case publicly, he could face contempt charges if he utilizes evidence obtained from the pretrial discovery process to target witnesses or other individuals involved in the case.
On April 4, Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records, which are connected to payments made by his company to his former lawyer, Michael Cohen. Prosecutors assert that these payments were intended to reimburse Cohen for facilitating hush money payments during the 2016 campaign to conceal allegations of extramarital sexual encounters. Trump has denied engaging in extramarital affairs and has accused the prosecution of being politically motivated.
The protective order issued by Merchan prohibits Trump and his legal team from disseminating evidence to third parties or sharing it on social media. Additionally, sensitive material provided by the prosecutors must be kept exclusively by Trump's lawyers and not by Trump himself.
Prosecutors sought the protective order shortly after Trump's arrest, citing his history of making "harassing, embarrassing, and threatening statements" about individuals with whom he has been involved in legal disputes. Judge Merchan, acknowledging Trump's unique status as a former president and current candidate, has made it clear that the protective order should not be interpreted as a gag order and that Trump retains the right to publicly defend himself.
While Trump's lawyers are attempting to have the criminal case transferred to federal court, the proceedings will continue in state court until a decision is reached on the matter.