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Trump’s gag order in hush money case expanded to include judge’s family 

A New York judge expanded former President Trump’s gag order on Monday to limit his recent barrage of attacks against the judge’s daughter

Justice Juan Merchan’s five-page ruling excoriated Trump over his series of Truth Social posts attacking the judge’s daughter since the former president was placed under a gag order last week. 

“This pattern of attacking family members of presiding jurists and attorneys assigned to his cases serves 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,” Merchan wrote in his ruling. 

Among others, Trump’s previous gag order limited his public statements about jurors, witnesses, and “the family members of any counsel or staff member,” but it didn’t extend to family members of Merchan or Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D). 

At Bragg’s request, Merchan has now expanded the order to include them, further restricting Trump’s rhetoric as his April 15 trial date approaches. 

Trump had repeatedly directed his rage at Merchan’s daughter, Loren, who served as an executive at a progressive political consulting firm whose clients have included prominent Democrats like President Biden, Vice President Harris and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y). The former president, in one post, shared a link with a photo of Loren Merchan.  

Trump’s legal team opposed expanding the gag order, arguing in court papers that the posts were protected political advocacy under the First Amendment. Emphasizing Trump’s status as the presumptive Republican nominee, the posts were “necessary and appropriate in the current environment,” his lawyers asserted. 

Merchan called those arguments “farcical,” describing Trump’s comments as “dangerous rhetoric.” 

“Such concerns will undoubtedly interfere with the fair administration of justice and constitutes a direct attack on the Rule of Law itself,” Merchan wrote. 

“Again, all citizens, called upon to participate in these proceedings, whether as a juror, a witness, or in some other capacity, must now concern themselves not only with their own personal safety, but with the safety and the potential for personal attacks upon their loved ones. That reality cannot be overstated,” he continued. 

Trump’s lawyers previously demanded that the judge recuse himself from the case over Loren Merchan’s work, arguing that it brought his impartiality into question. Merchan ultimately rejected their request after seeking guidance from the state’s judicial ethics advisory committee. Trump’s lawyers signaled earlier on Monday that they plan to file a new recusal motion. 

The former president has launched attacks against the family members of judges across his legal cases and other political foes.  

During his civil fraud case, Trump targeted the trial judge’s wife and son on Truth Social, purporting they wanted to see him face prison time or were financially benefitting from the proceeding. When running for president, he took aim at the wives of several opponents, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and then-candidate Jeb Bush.  

Trump faces 34 charges linked to hush money payments made by the former president’s ex-fixer to porn actress Stormy Daniels with the aim of covering up an alleged affair ahead of the 2016 election. He has pleaded not guilty. 

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