The New York judge handling Donald Trump’s criminal case approved a protective order on Monday that limits the former president’s ability to publicize information on social media related to evidence in the investigation.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office had submitted the protective order to restrict Trump’s ability to share information his attorneys receive in the discovery process in part because of Trump’s social media posts about Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and witnesses in the case.
Manhattan prosecutors have accused Trump of falsifying business records with the intent to conceal illegal conduct connected to his 2016 presidential campaign. The criminal charges stem from Bragg’s investigation into hush money payments, made during the 2016 campaign, to an adult film star who alleged an affair with Trump, which he denies.
Judge Juan Merchan signed off on the protective order, which states that evidence in the case turned over may not be shared or posted to “any news or social media platforms, including, but not limited, to Truth Social, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter, Snapchat, or YouTube, without prior approval from the Court.”
Merchan’s ruling followed a hearing last week in which Trump’s attorneys and prosecutors from the district attorney’s office debated the details of the protective order, including the rules governing how much of material taken from the cell phones of witnesses, such as former Trump lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, could be viewed by Trump.
Trump’s attorneys had opposed the protective order, arguing that it infringed on Trump’s First Amendment rights as he makes another run for president in 2024.
Following last week’s hearing, Trump’s lawyers filed a motion to move the criminal case to federal court, arguing the crimes Trump is accused of committed are tied to his duties as president.
On Monday, the district attorney’s office filed a request for a conference to discuss the process for a US district judge to hear the motion. Trump’s lawyers did not oppose the request.
Trump pleaded not guilty last month to felony charges of falsifying business records with the intent to conceal illegal conduct connected to his 2016 presidential campaign. Merchan said he wants to have a trial in February or March of 2024.
In its filing Monday, the district attorney’s office noted that the defense team’s request to move the case to federal court did not pause the state court’s schedule.
“An early case conference to set a schedule and procedures for prompt resolution of the Notice of Removal will therefore minimize disruption to New York’s ‘traditional state authority’ to punish ‘local criminal activity,’” the Manhattan district attorney’s office wrote.
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