Updated May 14, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Trump surrogates push the line on his gag order

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) and others at former President Trump's New York criminal fraud trail at Manhattan Criminal Court on May 14. Photo: Curtis Means - Pool/Getty Images

Former President Trump's latest gag order workaround may be to just let his surrogates do the talking.

Why it matters: Trump loyalists have flocked to the Manhattan courthouse in recent days and they've echoed many of the criticisms Trump is unable to say under the gag order.

  • The order prevents him from commenting on jurors, witnesses, court staff and family members connected to the case.
  • Trump has repeatedly tested the limits of the gag order, prompting the judge overseeing the case to warn him that any future threats could result in prison time.
  • A New York appeals court on Tuesday rejected a bid by Trump's team to throw out the gag order.

Driving the news: House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), one of the members of Trump's entourage who attended court on Tuesday, slammed the star witness in the case, Michael Cohen, as "a man who is clearly on a mission for personal revenge."

  • Trump's team has worked to paint the former president's onetime fixer as dishonest and uncredible.
  • Cohen finished testifying for the prosecution on Tuesday before facing Trump's team for a tense cross-examination.

Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), who also attended court on Tuesday, criticized the daughter of the judge presiding over the trial, Judge Juan Merchan.

  • Trump has repeatedly gone after Merchan's daughter, who works with Democratic politicians. Trump's attacks on the judge's daughter led him to implement an expanded gag order.
  • "This is a politicized persecution," entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, a former GOP presidential candidate, said on Fox News.

State of play: The New York courthouse has become a fresh venue for Trump allies — and VP hopefuls — to prove their support to the indicted ex-president and presumptive GOP presidential nominee.

  • North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, a possible Trump VP contender, also attended court on Tuesday.
  • Burgum said the trial has taken Trump away from the campaign trail.

Zoom out: Earlier this week, Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), another possible Trump VP candidate, attacked Cohen, saying: "Does any reasonable, sensible person really believe anything that Michael Cohen says?"

Between the lines: When Trump was asked by a reporter on Tuesday if he was directing his surrogates to speak on his behalf, he said: "I do have a lot of surrogates and they are speaking very beautifully" and come from "all over Washington."

The other side: The Democratic National Committee said in a statement that "Trump is convening the saddest posse of MAGA loyalists ... desperate for emotional support and political cover as he spends another week tending to his personal affairs rather than talking to actual voters."

  • "Trump's pathetic band of MAGA extremists seemingly have nothing better to do than echo Trump's lies and nod approvingly in the background – because they certainly aren't doing their day jobs of serving their constituents or running a functional political operation," DNC spokesperson Alex Floyd said.

Go deeper: Trump grip tightens with high-profile loyalty test

Editor's note: This story has been updated with a statement from DNC spokesperson Alex Floyd.

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