Latest News 28-03-2024 12:02 5 Views

Former Watergate prosecutor calls Trump gag order ‘so unusual’: ‘This never happens’

Nick Akerman, a former Watergate prosecutor, said that in his 50-some years in law, he has never seen a gag order like the one imposed on former President Trump in his hush money payments case this week. 

New York Judge Juan Merchan issued the gag order on Tuesday following a request from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

'This is so unusual,' Akerman told CNN’s Fredericka Whitfield on Wednesday. 'This never happens, in over 50 years in law practice, both as a prosecutor and a defense lawyer.' 

He added, 'It’s not done, and the reason it’s not done is because once you start disparaging the judge, disparaging people in the courtroom, you’re putting yourself in harm’s way because that’s the judge that’s going to sentence you.'

Akerman added that Trump is 'the only one I have ever seen do this and do it in such an outrageous way that it’s really forced the courts – to where does the First Amendment stop and where do we need a gag order in order to protect the judicial system?' 

Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, has been highly critical of the judge, calling the gag order 'illegal, un-American, unconstitutional,' saying that Merchan was 'wrongfully attempting to deprive me of my First Amendment Right to speak out against the Weaponization of Law Enforcement.' 

Trump even suggested that the gag order was related to Merchan’s adult daughter’s work as the president of a political consulting firm.

'Judge Juan Merchan, who is suffering from an acute case of Trump Derangement Syndrome (whose daughter represents Crooked Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Adam ‘Shifty’ Schiff, and other Radical Liberals, has just posted a picture of me behind bars, her obvious goal, and makes it completely impossible for me to get a fair trial) has now issued another illegal, un-American, unConstitutional ‘order,’ as he continues to try and take away my Rights,' Trump wrote on Truth Social. 

In issuing the gag order, the judge cited Trump's 'prior extrajudicial statements,' saying they establish 'a sufficient risk to the administration of justice.' 

Merchan ordered that Trump cannot make or direct others to make public statements about witnesses concerning their potential participation, or about counsel in the case — other than Bragg — or about court staff, DA staff or family members of staff.

Merchan also ordered that Trump cannot make or direct others to make public statements about any prospective juror or chosen juror. 

Merchan said in his decision that Trump has made statements in the past during other trials — likely referring to the months-long non-jury civil fraud trial stemming from New York Attorney General Letitia James' case. 

'lndeed, his statements were threatening, inflammatory, denigrating, and the targets of his statements ranged from local and federal officials, court and court staff, prosecutors and staff assigned to the cases, and private individuals including grand jurors performing their civic duty,' Merchan writes. 'The consequences of those statements included not only fear on the part of the individual targeted, but also the assignment of increased security resources to investigate threats and protect the individuals and family members thereof.' 

Akerman added later on X, 'Trump's unprecedented pattern of disparaging and threatening judges, prosecutors and witnesses is self-destructive and makes it more likely he will end up in the slammer.' 

Former Acting U.S. Attorney General Matt Whitaker, who served under Trump, told Fox News, 'I think these gag orders are very dangerous… The First Amendment is fairly broad in its protection of our right to speak and speak our minds, and I think ultimately this judge is going to have to tread very carefully.' 

Trump has had two other gag orders issued against him in recent months. 

Fox News Digital's Brooke Singman and Maria Paronich contributed to this report. 

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