Trump’s Gag Order Appeal Shot Down in Hush Money Case

( – Donald Trump’s appeal to rescind a gag order placed upon him by Judge Juan Merchan has been denied by New York’s Court of Appeals. The appeals court rejected the request on Tuesday, June 18th with a single-line decision in which it declared that there was “no substantial constitutional question” involved in the request.

Merchan put the gag order in place against Trump on March 26th during the hush money case involving adult film actress Stormy Daniels. At the time, Merchan justified his decision to bar Trump from publicly discussing witnesses and others involved in the case as he claimed that Trump had a history of speaking in a demeaning manner about people involved in the legal system.

Merchan argued that should Trump have free reign to criticize witnesses and court staff, he could derail proceedings. Trump went on to break that gag order 10 times, each count earning him a fine of $1000, totaling $10,000. Merchan even threatened Trump with jail time should he continue to speak in violation of the gag order. Trump and his legal team have characterized the order as a violation of the constitutional right to free speech.

Trump was recently convicted of 34 felony counts relating to payments allegedly made to Daniels through Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen. Daniels claimed to have had a brief romantic relationship with Trump several years prior, and the payments were designed to buy her silence on the topic. Prosecutors claim that Trump falsified business records by classifying the hush money payments as simply “legal expenses.”

Falsifying business records is classed as a misdemeanor, rather than a felony, in the state of New York. However, prosecutors claimed that by trying to suppress undesirable stories about a presidential candidate in the run-up to an election, Trump conspired to promote a candidate unlawfully. According to New York law, if a business record is falsified to commit a second crime, it becomes a felony. Trump is due to be sentenced on July 11th.

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