Former President Donald Trump could be issued a gag order in connection with his imminent arrest and arraignment by New York City authorities who are moving forward with an indictment on more than 30 counts related to business fraud.
The order would prevent Trump from speaking publicly about the case, potentially disrupting a speech he planned to give at Mar-a-Lago at 8:15 pm on the day of his arraignment. Under New York State law, violating the gag order could result in a contempt of court charge, triggering a fine of $1,000 and up to a 30-day prison sentence.
A gag order on the frontrunner in an election would be an unprecedented move. Any attempt to silence Trump, who is polling 30 points higher than his top opponent in the race for the Republican nomination, could be met with legal challenges over the order’s potential first Amendment violations.
“The Trump legal team now thinks that the Manhattan judge will take the unprecedented step of silencing the presidential frontrunner with an unconstitutional gag order tomorrow,” an unnamed source told Daily Mail on April 2. “The Trump legal team is considering adding a First Amendment lawyer to the effort to combat this and will fight it all the way.”
Duncan Levin, a former federal prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice, says that it is “most likely” that Manhattan’s Acting Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan — who is expected to arraign Trump on March 3 — will issue a gag order on Trump as a condition of his release.
“I think it’s not only a possibility, but it’s extremely likely that there will be a gag order in the case,” Levin told Business Insider. “Gag orders are very common in criminal cases, particularly in cases where there is an enormous amount of pretrial publicity like this one.”
Trump announced on his social media platform Truth Social that he will be leaving Mar-a-Lago at noon the day before the arraignment and flying to New York, where he will spend the night at Trump Tower. Following the arraignment, he will return to Florida.
In the three days since the indictment of Trump was announced, his campaign has raised more than $4 million and received 16,000 volunteer sign-ups.