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Yuki Iwamura/AP

Judge Merchan hears claims that Trump violated gag order, slams Trump’s lawyer

Prosecutors in Donald Trump’s hush money trial suggested Tuesday that the former president has been violating a gag order barring him from attacking witnesses on social media in an attempt to get locked up for political purposes.

“The purpose of this hearing is to find out whether the defendant Mr. Trump should be held in contempt for one or all of these violations,” the judge said as the hearing began.

“His disobedience of the order is willful; it’s intentional,” Conroy told the judge of Trump. “He knows what he’s not allowed to do, and he does it anyway.”

But Trump attorney Todd Blanche argued “there was absolutely no willful violation” of the April 1st order and said his client was merely responding to a “barrage of political attacks.”

When Merchan pressed Blanche on what specific attacks Trump was responding to when he made the posts, the attorney struggled to answer.

“I keep asking you over and over to give me an example and I’m not getting an answer,” the judge said, appearing frustrated. Blanche could not tell the judge who or what entity was attacking Donald Trump to the degree that would warrant a response.

The prosecution does not seek to put Trump in jail but rather fine him $10,000 per post that breaks the gag order. They believe that Trump wants to be put in jail for political purposes, specifically to call into question the efficacy of the court and encourage his supporters to rally for him. The prosecution has brought forth ten instances of Trump breaking the gag order.

Trump reposted a message from Fox host Jesse Watters that called into question whether the jurors were lying about their intentions to get on the jury or if they were honest. However, Trump changed a few slight words in the reposted version of the message, which was brought to Judge Merchan’s attention.

Merchan reserved a decision on the issue until a later time, but he made clear that he was not impressed by the arguments from Trump’s legal team. When Blanche told him Trump was being careful about complying with the order, the judge told him, “Mr. Blanche, you are losing all credibility with the court.”

According to those in attendance, Trump did not seem concerned by this development.


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