Updated Jun 4, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Trump asks judge to lift gag order in hush money case after guilty verdict

Former President and Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a press conference at Trump Tower on May 31, 2024 in New York City. The former president was found guilty on all 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first of his criminal cases to go to trial. (Photo

Former President Trump on May 31 in New York City. Photo: David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

Former President Trump's legal team asked the judge who presided over the New York hush money trial to lift a gag order following his guilty verdict, according to a letter made public on Tuesday.

The big picture: Trump has repeatedly sought to get rid of the order instated by Judge Juan Merchan to limit the former president's ability to speak publicly about people involved in the case.

Driving the news: "Now that the trial is concluded, the concerns articulated by the government and the Court do not justify continued restrictions on the First Amendment rights of President Trump — who remains the leading candidate in the 2024 presidential election — and the American people," his lawyers wrote in the letter obtained by Axios.

  • Trump's attorney, Todd Blanche, argued that Trump's "constitutional mandate for unrestrained campaign advocacy" is greater now because of President Biden's comments about the verdict, the presidential debate scheduled for June 27, and alleged public attacks by witnesses Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels.
  • The letter was sent to Merchan Monday and was made public by Trump's legal team.

Context: The gag order prohibits Trump from commenting on witnesses, prosecutors, court staff and jurors in the case, as well as their relatives.

  • Prosecutors argued that the former president's social media posts and other statements attacking jurors and potential witnesses went against the order.
  • During the trial last month, Merchan fined Trump thousands of dollars for violating the gag order and threatened to jail him over it.

Catch up quick: Trump was found guilty last week on all 34 felony counts in his criminal trial, making him the first-ever former U.S. president to be a convicted felon.

  • The presumptive GOP presidential nominee is scheduled to be sentenced on July 11, four days before the start of the Republican National Convention.
  • He was charged last year with 34 felony counts in the first degree of falsifying business records in connection with a $130,000 hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels over an alleged sexual encounter.

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Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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