Judge Merchan will warn Trump against sharing evidence on social media
Such orders are not uncommon. But in this case, prosecutors expressed particular concern that Trump would try to intimidate witnesses by publicly releasing information he gleans from the documents or that he would try to rally supporters to commit violence by using the information it has obtained during the discovery process.
The status of the main investigations involving Donald Trump
Shortly before being indicted in March on 34 counts of falsifying business records, Trump warned on his Truth Social account of “potential death and destruction” if Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, was to press charges. In a chilling message recalling Trump’s comments ahead of the January 6, 2021 riot at the United States Capitol, the former president also called on protesters to “take back our nation.”
Both Bragg and Merchan have received a flurry of threats related to the Trump case.
Merchan’s order also prohibits defense attorneys from making discovery copies for anyone outside the legal team and prohibits Trump from seeing certain documents unless his attorneys are present.
The protective order is not a gag order, and Trump is not barred from talking about the case.
Trump’s court appearance will be his second since being charged in a Manhattan state court in a case related to the reimbursement of silent money given to an adult film star during the 2016 presidential campaign. Trump, the first former president charged with a crime, was arraigned on those charges on April 4 and pleaded not guilty.
Bragg’s case is one of many serious ongoing investigations against Trump. Justice Department assesses whether he mishandled classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida home and private club, or obstructed efforts to recover those documents, plus Trump’s role in efforts to overturn the 2020 election results and his potential involvement in the January 6 events.
Two weeks ago, a federal jury in Manhattan found Trump liable for assault and defamation in connection with an alleged mid-1990s sexual assault revealed by author and advice columnist E. Jean Carroll. The jury in that case awarded Carroll $5 million and found it was likely Trump sexually assaulted her in a Bergdorf Goodman locker room after a chance encounter.
Trump’s criminal case and various other ongoing investigations could complicate his run for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024. He has been actively campaigning for months and has framed his legal troubles as a function of Democrats trying to prevent him to return to the White House.
The trade records case could go to trial next year, potentially around the time of the presidential primaries. The charges relate to Trump’s alleged misclassification of reimbursement payments to Michael Cohen, his former attorney and repairman. Cohen paid adult film actress Stormy Daniels $130,000 during the 2016 presidential campaign to keep quiet about an alleged sexual encounter with Trump years earlier.
Bragg’s team accused Trump of documenting the payments as legal fees when they should have been reported as campaign expenses.
Trump’s lawyers are likely to argue that the payments were not a reportable expense and that state-level prosecutors cannot use federal campaign finance violations as a basis to turn a tampering charge records by state court into a felony.
In recent court filings, prosecutors have clashed with Trump’s lawyers over whether the defense is entitled to a detailed breakdown of the elements of each count that will be presented at trial.
This story will be updated following the court appearance on Tuesday afternoon.