Trump targets two likely witnesses ahead of his criminal trial, despite gag order

Trump targets two likely witnesses ahead of his criminal trial, despite gag order

In this courtroom sketch, Michael Cohen looks at former U.S. President Donald Trump as he is questioned by an attorney from the attorney general’s office during the Trump Organization’s civil fraud trial in the New York State Supreme Court in the New York City borough of Manhattan on October 24. 2023.

Jane Rosenberg | Reuters

Donald Trump on Saturday targeted two likely witnesses in his upcoming New York hush money trial, testing the limits of a code of secrecy that prohibits such public statements.

“Mark POMERANTZ was prosecuted for his horrific actions inside and outside the DA’s office. “Has disgraced lawyer and criminal Michael Cohen been prosecuted for LIES?” The former president posted on Truth Social.

The social media post represents the latest challenge to the limits of a gag order that bars Trump from making public statements about likely witnesses and jurors.

Cohen previously worked as Trump’s personal lawyer and is likely to be a key witness in the trial. In 2018, he pleaded guilty in connection with hush money payments to two women in 2016, which he said were made “at the direction” of an unnamed 2016 presidential candidate. He is expected to mention Trump by name at the upcoming trial.

Pomerantz is a former prosecutor who once led the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office investigation into Trump’s hush money payments before leaving the case in 2022.

The trial is scheduled to begin Monday with jury selection in which Trump will be tried on 34 counts of falsifying business records allegedly to conceal a $130,000 hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016. The start date was postponed from March 25. Trump’s legal team has time to review new documents.

On March 26, New York State Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan, who is presiding over the case, issued the first gag order, which he later expanded following Trump’s ongoing targeting of Merchan’s daughter over her work at a Democratic political consulting firm.

In the weeks since, Trump has repeatedly pushed the limits of the gag order.

In a Truth Social post on Wednesday, Trump attacked Cohen and Daniels, another likely witness, calling them “two sleaze bags.”

Trump had previously said it would be a “great honor” to go to prison for violations of the gag order and compared himself to a “modern-day Nelson Mandela,” the former president of South Africa who spent decades in prison for violating was apartheid.

It wouldn’t be the first time that Trump has had to face consequences if he doesn’t comply with a duty of confidentiality. In a separate trial in October, Judge Arthur Engoron fined Trump $10,000 for violations of the gag order.

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2024-04-13 18:50:27