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New York’s highest court rejects Trump’s appeal of gag order in hush money case

Former President Donald Trump, with attorney Todd Blanche, speaks to the media at his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments linked to an extramarital affair with Stormy Daniels, at Manhattan Criminal Court on May 14, 2024, in New York City. (Curtis Means/Pool/Getty Images/TNS)

NEW YORK — New York’s highest court rejected Donald Trump’s appeal of the gag order in his hush-money case in a terse decision Tuesday.

The Court of Appeals declined to take up the appeal because “no substantial constitutional question [was] directly involved.”

Trump had turned to New York’s top court after the bid was rejected by a mid-level appellate panel in May before a jury found him guilty of falsifying business records to cover up a conspiracy to hide information from voters before the 2016 election. Trump argued the gag order infringed on core political speech “at the height of his Presidential campaign.”

Since his conviction, Trump has separately asked Justice Juan Merchan to lift the order he issued before the trial prohibiting him from publicly commenting on trial participants, including witnesses Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels, the prosecution team, and court staff on the basis the trial is over.

Merchan, who based his order on Trump’s pattern of attacking those involved in his cases posing a security threat, expanded it to cover the relatives of all involved after Trump boosted conspiracy theories about the jurist’s daughter on his social media site Truth Social. He fined Trump $10,000 for repeated violations and threatened to imprison him for further transgressions.

Prosecutors, who opposed Trump’s appeal, are expected to dispute his request to Merchan at length later this week. In their initial response, they asked the judge to keep the gag order in place until after his sentencing next month to protect the integrity of the proceedings.

Trump, 78, is expected to return to Manhattan Supreme Court on July 11 for his sentencing and could face prison time. He’s slated to be named the GOP nominee for president at the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee a few days later.

The Manhattan criminal case is one of four he faces, but it is the only one expected to be resolved with a jury’s verdict before this year’s election. He’s pleaded not guilty to scores of charges in Georgia, Washington, D.C., and Florida, alleging he plotted to overturn President Biden’s win in 2020 and hoarded classified documents after leaving the White House.

In the New York hush-money case, he was found guilty of 34 counts of falsifying business records on May 30 stemming from his reimbursement to Cohen for paying off Daniels in the leadup to the 2016 election to buy her silence about an alleged extramarital tryst a decade before. Trial evidence showed the porn star and director was among three recipients of hush money payments as Trump sought to take the White House. Prosecutors have not yet signaled whether they plan to request a prison term.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office and Trump’s lawyer, Todd Blanche, declined to comment on Tuesday’s decision.

In a statement, Trump’s campaign spokesman, Steven Cheung, said the Republican frontrunner would continue his fight to be unmuzzled.

“The Gag Order wrongfully silences the leading candidate for President of the United States, President Trump, at the height of his campaign,” Cheung wrote. “The Election Interfering Gag Order violates the First Amendment rights of President Trump and all American voters, who have a fundamental right to hear his message.”


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