New York state Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan has barred former President Donald Trump from releasing any of the evidence and information that he as well as his legal team will gain access to as part of discovery in the criminal case he is facing in New York City.
The judge on Monday issued a protective order that doesn’t allow Trump to publicly disclose any information or evidence that prosecutors have built against him. He was specifically barred from releasing that information on Truth Social, which is the social media platform that he owns.
In addition, the judge said that Trump will only be allowed to see the evidence gathered against him while he’s with members of his defense team.
As the order states:
“Any materials and information provided by the People to the defense in accordance with their discovery obligations as well as any other documents, materials or correspondence provided to or exchanged with defense counsel of record on the [case] … shall be used solely for the purposes of preparing a defense in this matter.
“It is further ordered that any person who receives the covered materials shall not copy, disseminate or disclose the covered materials, in any form or by any means, to any third party … or posting the covered materials to any news or social media platforms, including, but not limited, to Truth Social, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter, Snapchat or YouTube, without prior approval from the court.”
Merchan also handed Alvin Bragg, Manhattan’s district attorney, another win Monday, when he allowed the prosecution to redact all names of staffers from the discovery until the case begins the jury selection process.
Almost immediately after Trump was arraigned on 34 New York state criminal counts, the Manhattan DA’s office was trying to ensure that Trump would be prohibited from releasing evidence that he, as the defendant, will have a right to see before trial.
Their fear was that Trump would use his vast public following to release the evidence, potentially even falsifying it, which could all influence the potential jurors in the case.
During hearings in late April and early May, the assistant district attorney in Manhattan, Catherine McCraw, told the judge:
“[Trump has a] longstanding and perhaps singular history of attacking witnesses, investigators, prosecutors, trial jurors, grand jurors, judges and others involved in legal proceedings against him.”
Because of this, a protective order to prohibit him from sharing evidence or information that he has access to as part of the discovery phase was necessary, she argued.
Trump’s legal team responded by saying that the judge shouldn’t be putting a muzzle on their client, especially as he is an active candidate for president of the United States. As such, it would be natural to expect that he would talk about all aspects of his life, and if he were prevented from doing so, it could negatively affect his candidacy.
The 34 charges Trump is facing all revolve around the 2016 payment made to former adult film star Stormy Daniels that was meant to prevent her from talking about an alleged affair she had with Trump years before the presidential election.
Trump is being accused of falsifying business documents in relation to that payment.