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Judge keeps Trump under partial gag order ahead of sentencing

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A New York judge on Tuesday lifted two parts of a gag order that prevented former President Donald Trump from speaking publicly about some people involved in the case, but kept another part of the order in place ahead of a sentencing hearing.

Judge Juan Merchan lifted two sections of the gag order, but kept a third that prevents Trump from speaking about court staff and their family members, according to the order.

Prosecutors from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office did not oppose Trump’s motion to end one section of the gag order but opposed the rest of Trump’s request. The judge disagreed and lifted two sections.

“Circumstances have now changed. The trial portion of these proceedings ended when the verdict was rendered, and the jury discharged. Therefore, Paragraph (a) is terminated without opposition by the People. As to Paragraph (c), while it would be this Court’s strong preference to extend those protections, the Court cannot do so on what is now a different record than what the appellate courts relied upon when they rendered their rulings,” Merchan wrote in the order. “Therefore, Paragraph (c) must be terminated. Nonetheless, there is ample evidence to justify continued concern for the jurors. Therefore, the protections set forth in this Court’s Protective Order of March 7, 2024, Regulating Disclosure of Juror Information will remain in effect until further order of this Court.”

Section B of the gag order remains in place. That section reads as follows: “Making or directing others to make public statements about (1) counsel in the case other than the District Attorney, (2) members of the court’s staff and the District Attorney’s staff, or (3) the family members of any counsel, staff member, the Court or the District Attorney, if those statements are made with the intent to materially interfere with, or to cause others to materially interfere with, counsel’s or staffs work in this criminal case, or with the knowledge that such interference is likely to result.”

“This Court notes that while witness testimony has concluded, a verdict has been rendered, and the jury discharged – the proceedings are not concluded. This matter has been set down for the imposition of sentence on July 11, 2024,” Merchan wrote. “Until sentence is imposed, all individuals covered by Paragraph (B) must continue to perform their lawful duties free from threats, intimidation, harassment, and harm.”

That section will be lifted after sentencing, the judge wrote.

In late May, a New York jury convicted Trump, 78, of 34 counts of falsifying business records to cover up hush money payments to an adult film actress.

Under New York state law, falsifying business records in the first degree is a Class E felony with a maximum sentence of four years in prison per count.

Trump is preparing to face President Joe Biden in a November rematch for the White House.

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