Trump ramps up attacks on judges, sparking concerns as criminal trial nears


Former president Donald Trump is ramping up efforts to disparage judges overseeing his criminal and civil cases — reprising a long-standing strategy as a high-profile trial draws near and prompting growing concerns from legal experts and an expanded gag order late Monday.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s approach, part of a broader election-year attempt to portray the judicial system as weaponized against him, was evident in a slew of attacks over the weekend. Such broadsides, which Trump has often lobbed without evidence for his claims, have raised worries about the safety of judges and threaten to undermine faith in the court system, some legal experts said Monday.

Trump’s personal attacks against the daughter of the New York judge overseeing a hush money case prompted the judge to expand an existing gag order to include his family and the district attorney’s family.

On social media over the weekend, Trump wrote that New York State Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan, who is overseeing his New York hush money criminal trial that is scheduled to start April 15, “should be immediately sanctioned and recused.” The attack came days after Trump personally attacked Merchan’s daughter, calling her a “Rabid Trump Hater” and suggesting that the judge was “compromised” because of her work for a Democratic-aligned digital marketing company.

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Trump called New York State Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron, who ordered a nearly half-billion-dollar judgment against Trump, “corrupt” and claimed that his credibility had been “shattered.” And in a lengthy post on Easter Sunday, Trump wrote in all caps: “Happy Easter to all, including crooked and corrupt prosecutors and judges that are doing everything possible to interfere with the presidential election of 2024, and put me in prison.”

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg alluded to Trump’s repeated attacks last week in asking Merchan to confirm whether the limited gag order he had imposed on Trump bars the former president from attacking the judge’s family. On Monday, he submitted an additional court filing citing Trump’s most recent public statements and reiterating his request that the judge clarify if the gag order applies to his own family members — and expand it if it doesn’t. The new ruling from Merchan came hours later and alluded to the attacks on his daughter.

“It is no longer just a mere possibility or a reasonable likelihood that there exists a threat to the integrity of the judicial proceedings,” Merchan wrote. “The threat is very real. Admonitions are not enough, nor is reliance on self-restraint.”

In their own Monday filing, Susan Necheles and Todd Blanche, Trump’s lawyers, argued that Trump has clear rights protecting his speech as a citizen and candidate.

“Under these circumstances, President Trump must be permitted to speak on these issues in a manner that is consistent with his position as the leading presidential candidate and his defense, which is not intended to materially interfere with these proceedings or cause harm to anyone,”…



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