Trump Renews Criticism of Former Lawyer on Trial's Eve, Defying Gag Order

Trump faces legal challenges ahead of his trial

by Zain ul Abedin
Trump Renews Criticism of Former Lawyer on Trial's Eve, Defying Gag Order
© Andrew Harnik/Getty Images

Donald Trump once again stirred controversy on Saturday by openly criticizing his former lawyer, Michael Cohen. This latest tirade comes just days before his landmark criminal trial in New York, raising questions about his compliance with a court-imposed gag order.

The gag order explicitly prohibits Trump from making public comments about witnesses related to their upcoming testimonies. Taking to his platform, Truth Social, the former president questioned the integrity of the legal process, stating, "Has disgraced attorney and felon Michael Cohen been prosecuted for LYING? Only TRUMP people get prosecuted by this Judge and these thugs!" This post could potentially breach the limits set by Justice Juan Merchan, who presides over what will be the first criminal trial of a former U.S.

president. Michael Cohen is slated to be a principal witness for the prosecution. The trial, which begins jury selection on Monday, centers around allegations that Trump falsified business records. These accusations stem from a supposed $130,000 payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels (real name Stephanie Clifford) to prevent her from discussing an alleged s-xual encounter with Trump during the 2016 election campaign.

Cohen asserts that Trump directed him to make this payment and subsequently arranged for his reimbursement.

Trump Defies Gag Order

Despite pleading not guilty and denying any s-xual involvement with Daniels, Trump's actions and statements continue to fuel the media and public scrutiny.

In March, in response to a request from prosecutors, Justice Merchan issued a gag order to prevent Trump from discussing any witnesses concerning their involvement in the case. This order was extended on April 1 to include Trump’s family members and those of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, though it does not apply to Merchan and Bragg.

Amidst his presidential campaign, Trump has portrayed himself as a target of political persecution. At a recent rally in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania, he labeled Justice Merchan as "highly conflicted and corrupt" and accused Bragg of attempting to thwart his political comeback against President Joe Biden.

In 2018, Cohen was convicted on federal charges for violating campaign finance laws relating to the Daniels payment and later for lying to Congress about a Moscow real estate deal, allegedly to protect Trump. Earlier this week, Trump criticized both Cohen and Daniels, another potential witness, branding them as "sleaze bags" on his social media. This ongoing saga continues to captivate the nation, reflecting the intense legal and political battles ahead.