Judge Juan Merchan has declined to impose a gag order on former President Donald Trump regarding his charges in New York.
However, the judge warned Trump’s defense team that he should refrain from making “statements that are likely to incite violence and civil unrest.”
“I’d encourage counsel for both sides to speak to your witnesses, defense counsel speak to your client and remind them to please refrain from making statements that are likely to incite violence and civil unrest,” Judge Merchan said during the hearing, according to a report from the Daily Mail. “Don’t engage in words or conduct which could jeopardize the rule of law as it applies to these proceedings in this courtroom.”
Judge Manchin explained that he would not be issuing a gag order due to Trump being a “candidate for President of the United States” and noted that his “First Amendment rights are critically important.”
According to Fox 5 reporter Morgan McKay, who was inside the courtroom, “the entire process lasted about an hour and the Manhattan District Attorney’s office went over a couple of issues that they say could be arising in the next couple of months. The first one of course is Trump’s rhetoric on social media.”
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office asked for a gag order and cited Trump’s previous posts to Truth Social.
“They said that he has posted a quote, death and destruction if he was to be charged,” McKay reported. “They said he even referred to World War III so they were asking that the judge consider placing a protective order asking that he walks some of those statements back and make sure that he doesn’t post such inflammatory comments.”
Trump has been charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records and faces a maximum of 136 years in jail.
The indictment stems from Trump allegedly falsifying business records concerning a $130,000 payment to Daniels in 2016 over an alleged sexual encounter that the two had in 2006. Trump has denied sexual contact with the pornstar and that the payments violated the law.
Trump has pleaded not guilty to all counts. He is scheduled to appear back in court on December 4.
The former president remains the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican primary.