Judge Imposes Gag Order on Trump in Manhattan Criminal Trial

The New York judge presiding over one of Donald J. Trump’s criminal trials imposed a gag order on Tuesday that prohibits him from attacking witnesses, prosecutors and jurors, the latest effort to rein in the former president’s wrathful rhetoric about his legal opponents.

The judge, Juan M. Merchan, imposed the order at the request of the Manhattan district attorney’s office, which brought the case against Mr. Trump. The district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, has accused Mr. Trump of covering up a potential sex scandal during and after his 2016 campaign.

The ruling comes on the heels of Justice Merchan’s setting an April 15 trial date, rejecting Mr. Trump’s latest effort to delay the proceeding. It will mark the first criminal prosecution of a former American president.

Mr. Trump recently clinched the Republican presidential nomination for the third time, and with three other criminal cases against him mired in delay, the Manhattan case could be the only one to go to trial before voters head to the polls in November.

Under the judge’s gag order, Mr. Trump cannot make, or direct others to make, statements about witnesses’ roles in the case. Mr. Trump is also barred from commenting on prosecutors and court staff as well as their relatives — if the statements were intended to interfere with their work on the case.

In seeking the gag order last month, Mr. Bragg’s prosecutors highlighted Mr. Trump’s “longstanding history of attacking witnesses, investigators, prosecutors, judges, and others involved in legal proceedings against him” — comments that the judge seized on in his ruling.

“His statements were threatening, inflammatory, denigrating,” Justice Merchan wrote in the Tuesday order.

Mr. Trump, for example, has taken aim at Michael D. Cohen, his onetime fixer and one of Mr. Bragg’s main witnesses, calling him a “liar” and a “rat.”

In a rambling and angry post on his social media site on Tuesday, Mr. Trump made an ominous reference to Mr. Cohen, claiming without explanation that his former fixer was “death.” He also referred to one of Mr. Bragg’s prosecutors in pejorative terms.

Both comments would now arguably violate the gag order. In another post, Mr. Trump took aim at Justice Merchan and his family, claiming that the judge “hates me,” though those comments do not appear to cross the line the judge has now set.

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