STEVEN HIRSCH/POOL VIA REUTERS/FILE PHOTO Attorney Alina Habba reacts as former President Trump leaves the courthouse after a jury found him guilty of all 34 felony counts in his criminal trial at New York State Supreme Court in New York, New York, on May 30.

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STEVEN HIRSCH/POOL VIA REUTERS/FILE PHOTO

Attorney Alina Habba reacts as former President Trump leaves the courthouse after a jury found him guilty of all 34 felony counts in his criminal trial at New York State Supreme Court in New York, New York, on May 30.

NEW YORK >> A New York judge partially lifted a gag order on Donald Trump today following the Republican presidential candidate’s conviction on criminal charges stemming from an effort to influence the 2016 election by buying a porn star’s silence.

The revised order now allows Trump to speak publicly about witnesses in the case and removes a prohibition on his commenting about the jury, but keeps in place restrictions on his statements about individual prosecutors and others involved in the case. A separate order restricting Trump or anyone else from identifying members of the anonymous jury remains in effect, according to today’s order from Justice Juan Merchan.

Trump’s lawyers argued the gag order was stifling his campaign speech and said it might limit his ability to respond to attacks from Democratic President Joe Biden during their forthcoming debate on Thursday.

Prosecutors with Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office said limits on Trump’s speech about trial witnesses were no longer needed. But they urged Merchan to keep in place restrictions on his comments about jurors, court staff and individual prosecutors, citing risks to their safety.

In the first criminal trial of a U.S. president, a Manhattan jury on May 30 found Trump guilty of covering up his former lawyer Michael Cohen’s $130,000 hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who was threatening to go public before the 2016 election with her story of a sexual encounter with Trump.

Trump, elected to a four-year term that year, denies the alleged 2006 encounter and has vowed to appeal his conviction. Sentencing is scheduled for July 11, four days before his party convenes to formally nominate him to challenge Biden for president ahead of the Nov. 5 election.

Merchan imposed the gag order before the trial began in April, finding that Trump’s history of threatening statements posed a risk of derailing the proceedings.

The judge fined Trump $10,000 for violations of the order during the seven-week trial and warned him on May 6 that he would be jailed if he ran afoul of the order again.

In arguing some restrictions were still needed, prosecutors said Trump’s supporters had attempted to identify members of the anonymous jury and threatened violence against them.

“There thus remains a critical need to protect the jurors in this case from attacks by defendant and those he inspires to action,” they wrote in a June 20 court filing.

Defense lawyers Todd Blanche and Emil Bove in a June 11 court filing argued that holding Trump accountable for “harassing communications” by “independent third parties” violated his right to free speech.

They said Trump’s political opponents were using the restrictions as a “political sword.” They also said Trump was unable to respond to public attacks from Cohen and Daniels, who testified on behalf of the prosecution at trial.

The order does not prevent Trump from criticizing the case or from speaking about Merchan and Bragg.


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