Trump appeals gag order, seeks delay in Stormy Daniels hush money case

By Thomson Reuters Apr 9, 2024 | 10:49 AM

By Luc Cohen

NEW YORK (Reuters) -Donald Trump on Tuesday appealed a gag order in his New York criminal case on charges stemming from hush money paid to a porn star, and sought to delay the U.S. president’s April 15 trial while the appeal is resolved.

“The First Amendment harms arising from this gag order right now are irreparable,” Trump’s attorney Emil Bove said during a hearing.

The Republican presidential candidate’s lawyers said in a hearing at a mid-level appeals court known as the Appellate Division that Justice Juan Merchan’s order restricting his public comments on potential witnesses, court staff and individual lawyers should be overturned.

Merchan imposed the order last month after finding Trump made statements in various legal cases that the judge called “threatening, inflammatory” and “denigrating.”

The judge expanded the order to cover his relatives and those of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg after Trump disparaged Merchan’s daughter online.

The order does not restrict Trump’s speech about Merchan or Bragg.

Steven Wu, a lawyer with Bragg’s office, said at the Appellate Division hearing that the trial should not be delayed since Trump’s lawyers could have made the appeal earlier. He also said his office had to increase security due to Trump’s statements.

Trump is accused of covering up his former lawyer Michael Cohen’s $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels in exchange for her silence before the 2016 presidential election about a sexual encounter she said she had with Trump a decade earlier.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records and denied any such encounter with Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.

Trump lost on Monday a last-ditch bid to delay the trial while he tries to move the case out of heavily Democratic Manhattan. His lawyers said a survey of Manhattan residents they conducted showed that 61% of respondents thought Trump was guilty and 70% had a negative opinion of him.

The hush money case is one of four criminal indictments Trump faces as he prepares to challenge Democratic President Joe Biden in their Nov. 5 U.S. election rematch.

The others stem from his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss to Biden and his handling of sensitive government documents after leaving the presidency in 2021. Trump has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

(Reporting by Luc Cohen; Editing by Daniel Wallis)