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Judge denies Trump request to narrow gag order to respond to Stormy Daniels

Former President Trump’s hush money judge rejected the former president’s request to narrow his gag order so he can speak publicly about porn actor Stormy Daniels now that she has completed her testimony in Trump’s ongoing criminal trial.

Trump’s gag order limits his attacks against witnesses, among others, forcing the former president to stop pummeling some of his frequent targets on social media or risk jail time.

On Thursday afternoon, hours after Daniels was excused, Trump attorney Todd Blanche argued that the witness had changed her version of events, referencing the defense’s lines of attack during cross examination.

“He needs an opportunity to respond to the American people, and the reason for the gag order are over. She is no longer a witness,” Blanche said.

Merchan denied the motion from the bench, maintaining the restrictions that prevent Trump from criticizing the adult film star, one of prosecutors’ highest-profile witnesses.

“That’s just not the track record,” Merchan said. “The reason why the gag order is in place to begin with is precisely because of the nature of these attacks – the vitriol.”
The gag order bars Trump from hurling insults at witnesses, jurors, prosecutors, court staff or the judge’s family. It doesn’t bar Trump from attacking the judge himself or Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D).

Bragg’s office opposed Trump’s request. Prosecutor Chris Conroy said the defense was living in an “alternate reality.”

“There’s not another side out there, there is a proceeding that this order is designed to protect,” Conroy said.

The former president and his legal team have argued that the restrictions violate Trump’s First Amendment rights, stressing a need to respond to political attacks as they note the former president’s status as the presumptive Republican nominee.

“This judge has taken away my constitutional right to free speech. I am the only presidential candidate in history to be gagged. They don’t want me talking,” Trump said in a video posted to Truth Social that appears to have been filmed at Mar-a-Lago on Wednesday.

Over two days in the courtroom this week, the porn actor in her highly anticipated testimony recounted claims that she had sex with Trump at a 2006 celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, which Trump denies.

Ella Lee and Lauren Sforza contributed.

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