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Max Thornberry, Breaking News Editor


NextImg:Donald Trump indicted: Gag order could keep former president from talking about case

Former President Donald Trump might not be talking about the most significant development of his 2024 campaign starting next week.

When Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s investigation into hush money payments Trump made in 2016 resulted in the first indictment of a former president in U.S. history, the rules for Trump’s third White House run changed. After his arraignment, reported to be as soon as Tuesday, Trump will likely no longer be allowed to talk about the case or the charges brought against him.

DONALD TRUMP INDICTED: AT LEAST ONE FELONY AMONG CHARGES IN HUSH MONEY CASE: REPORT

"I think it's not only a possibility, but it's extremely likely that there will be a gag order in the case," Duncan Levin, a former federal prosecutor with the Department of Justice, told Insider. "Gag orders are very common in criminal cases, particularly in cases where there is an enormous amount of pretrial publicity like this one."

Trump set off a firestorm of commentary and speculation weeks ago when he went into the weekend suggesting he was going to be arrested in a matter of days. The former president, who is fond of communicating directly with friends and foes alike on social media, has been commenting on the legal proceedings against him for weeks on his platform Truth Social.

Shortly after it was announced on Thursday evening he had made history as the first former president ever to be charged with a crime, Trump released a prepared statement from his campaign, followed by an off-the-cuff attack on the situation.

"These Thugs and Radical Left Monsters have just INDICATED the 45th President of the United States of America, and the leading Republican Candidate, by far, for the 2024 Nomination for President," Trump raged, misspelling “indicted” in the process. "THIS IS AN ATTACK ON OUR COUNTRY THE LIKES OF WHICH HAS NEVER BEEN SEEN BEFORE. IT IS LIKEWISE A CONTINUING ATTACK ON OUR ONCE FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS. THE USA IS NOW A THIRD WORLD NATION, A NATION IN SERIOUS DECLINE. SO SAD!”

His Truth Social feed has been filled with frustrated attacks on Bragg and Manhattan’s acting Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan, who is expected to arraign Trump.

An arraignment won’t be the first time Merchan will interact with Trump. The judge also oversaw the criminal trial against the Trump Organization that resulted in former chief financial officer for the Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg, pleading guilty to tax fraud and being sentenced to five months in prison while also having to pay $2 million in taxes, penalties, and interest. The Trump Organization was found guilty of tax fraud and was fined $1.6 million.

As Merchan considers how to handle the historic problem of handling criminal charges against a former president and current top candidate for the presidential nomination, attorneys acknowledged a gag order will be difficult to enforce. Former Indiana Attorney General Jeff Modisett told the outlet the unique position Merchan and Trump makes the problems around gag orders and the First Amendment even thornier.

"Given Donald Trump's history in litigation, there is likely to be an appeal,” Mondisett said, “but a carefully defined, narrowly restricted gag order would be upheld by the courts on appeal.”

While judges have the authority to throw people in jail for violating gag orders, it appears unlikely Merchan will put Trump behind bars if he steps out of line either online or at one of his campaign rallies.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER

However, Levin described Merchan as a "no-nonsense" judge who is expected to keep tight control over the case as it moves forward.

If Trump were to violate an order, he could be subject to a fine of up to $1,000 and up to 30 days in jail.