Bragg seeks narrow gag order for Trump, citing pattern of inflammatory rhetoric

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg asked a judge on Monday to impose a gag order in the hush-money case against Donald Trump in New York, citing the former president’s “long history” of public inflammatory remarks about those involved in Trump’s legal cases.

Bragg asked Judge Juan Merchan to prohibit Trump from speaking about witnesses when the speech involves their participation in the case, as well as from speaking about Bragg’s court staff or lawyers if the speech is intended to “materially interfere” with the case.

Bragg’s prosecutors wrote in their 30-page request, which was accompanied by 200 pages of exhibits, that Bragg was seeking a “narrowly tailored” order that mimicked the gag order imposed on Trump in the former president’s criminal case in Washington, D.C., according to a copy of the filing shared by Just Security.

Trump had appealed the order in Washington, but the appellate court found it was mostly constitutionally sound. The court did, however, carve out special counsel Jack Smith from the order, deeming him fair game for Trump to speak about. Prosecutors in New York specified that they wanted a similar order that would prohibit speech about court staff with the exception of Bragg.

Prosecutors argued the order was needed both for preventative purposes and to address threats that have allegedly already interfered with the case.

“Defendant’s statements have resulted in credible threats of violence, harassment, and intimidation directed at the District Attorney, his staff, and the District Attorney’s Office,” they wrote.

Prosecutors said the office has been the target of “hundreds of threats in the wake of, and connected to, defendant’s public attacks.”

They shared instances of Trump raging about his legal cases on his social media platform Truth Social. Among dozens of examples of Trump’s comments, prosecutors noted one instance in which the former president wrote, “PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK!”

Prosecutors said that the Department of Justice charged a Utah man with interstate death threats against Bragg that began hours after Trump had written that remark.

Prosecutors said the New York Police Department had logged one threat in the 15 months before March 2023, when Bragg indicted Trump. However, they said, the NYPD then “logged an extraordinary surge in threat activity that began on the very day defendant began targeting the District Attorney, members of the District Attorney’s staff, and this Office with his violent rhetoric and public attacks.”

Bragg’s proposed order and the Washington, D.C., order are not the only instances of judges or prosecutors seeking to restrict Trump’s speech while attempting to balance the former president’s First Amendment rights.

Judge Arthur Engoron imposed a similar gag order in Trump’s civil fraud trial in New York last year, and also fined Trump a total of $15,000 for breaching the order on two occasions.

Bragg’s request comes one month before the trial in the case is set to begin. Bragg has charged Trump, the leading GOP presidential contender, with 34 counts of falsifying business records in relation to a 2016-era hush money scheme involving porn star Stormy Daniels. The former president has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

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Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said in a statement that if Merchan grants the gag order in the case, it would be an “unconstitutional infringement on President Trump’s First Amendment rights, including his ability to defend himself.”

“This case, like the others, is a sham orchestrated by partisan Democrats desperately attempting to prevent the reelection of President Trump and distract from the decrepit presidency of Crooked Joe Biden,” Cheung said. “The Radical Left will fail and President Trump will Make America Great Again.”

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