Apr 16, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Trump's social media posts follow him to courthouse

Former U.S. President Donald Trump appears ahead of the start of jury selection at Manhattan Criminal Court on April 15, 2024 in New York City.

Former President Trump appears ahead of the start of jury selection at Manhattan Criminal Court on April 15 in New York City. Photo: Jabin Botsford/Pool/Getty Images

Former President Trump's social media posts are taking center stage during the first criminal trial against him in New York as he continues to push the bounds of his gag order.

Why it matters: Trump has long turned to social media to rant about his legal battles and attack his political adversaries, but his torrent of posts related to indictments he faces could be used against him in court.

  • New York prosecutors argue that he should be held in contempt over his Truth Social posts.
  • Trump, who has denied wrongdoing in the case and called it a political witch hunt, said last week that it would be a "great honor" to be jailed for breaking the gag order.

Driving the news: Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg wrote in a filing Tuesday that Trump violated his gag order in the case and should be held in contempt over posts that attacked Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels, potential witnesses.

  • Prosecutors requested that Trump be fined $3,000 for the violations in three separate social media posts.
  • "Both the public and the participants in the criminal trial deserve reassurance that the judicial system stands ready to protect them and to preserve the rule of law in the face of defendant's extreme and deliberate provocations," Bragg wrote in the Tuesday motion.

Zoom in: Despite the warnings, Trump has repeatedly derided Judge Juan Merchan, who is overseeing the case, including in a post on Truth Social as recently as Tuesday.

  • The gag order prohibits him from commenting on possible witnesses and prosecutors, court employees and their families. Merchan is not included in the gag order.
  • Merchan scheduled a hearing for April 23 on prosecutors' request to hold Trump in contempt over alleged gag order violations.

Between the lines: Being involved in Trump's legal proceedings presents risks for those involved. Historic on their own, they mark the first time a former president doubling as a GOP candidate faces criminal charges.

  • Members of an Atlanta-area grand jury faced online threats after voting to indict Trump in the Georgia 2020 election case.

The big picture: Trump's social media activity has previously been scrutinized in court.

  • A dozen Trump tweets were cited in Georgia's racketeering indictment against him and 18 of his allies over the 2020 election.
  • In his New York civil fraud trial, Trump was fined twice for violations of his gag order in the case. The gag order was imposed after the former president made a post on Truth Social attacking the judge's law clerk.

Go deeper: How celebrity lawyers would approach Trump's jury selection

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