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Judge expands Trump’s gag order after ex-president’s social media posts about judge’s daughter

NEW YORK — The judge in Donald Trump’s April 15 hush-money criminal trial declared his daughter off-limits to the former president’s rancor on Monday, expanding a gag order days after Trump assailed and made false claims about her on social media.

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Judge Juan M. Merchan said the original gag order — barring Trump from making public statements about jurors, witnesses and others connected to the case — did not include his family members, but subsequent attacks warranted including them.

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Trump is now also barred from commenting publicly about the family of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, though he is still free to go after Bragg, the elected Democrat whose office is prosecuting the case.

“This pattern of attacking family members of presiding jurists and attorneys assigned to his cases serves no legitimate purpose,” Merchan wrote. “It merely injects fear in those assigned or called to participate in the proceedings that not only they, but their family members as well, are ‘fair game,’ for Defendant’s vitriol.”

A violation could result in Trump being held in contempt of court, fined or even jailed.

Trump criticized Merchan and Merchan’s daughter, a Democratic political consultant, in a series of Truth Social posts last Wednesday, a day after the judge issued his original gag order. Another post, over the weekend, included a photograph of Loren Merchan.

Prosecutors had urged Merchan to clarify or expand his gag order after Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform last week that Loren Merchan “makes money by working to ‘Get Trump,’” and wrongly accused her of posting a social media photo showing him behind bars.

Trump’s lawyers had fought the gag order and its expansion, arguing that Trump was engaging in protected political campaign speech.

Trump’s lawyers and the Manhattan district attorney’s office declined comment.

The trial, which involves allegations Trump falsified payment records in a scheme to cover up negative stories during his 2016 presidential campaign, is scheduled to begin April 15. Trump denies wrongdoing and has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records.

Merchan’s gag order echoes one in Trump’s Washington, D.C., election interference criminal case. It prohibits statements meant to interfere with or harass the court’s staff, prosecution team or their families — now including Merchan’s family.

This article was generated from an automated news agency feed without modifications to text.

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