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Trump gag order partially lifted in hush money case

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(NEW YORK) — The judge who oversaw Donald Trump’s criminal hush money trial in Manhattan agreed to partially lift a gag order on the former president Tuesday, granting Trump the ability to speak freely about witnesses in the case and the jury that found him guilty on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.

“Circumstances have now changed,” Judge Juan Merchan wrote Tuesday. “The trial portion of these proceedings ended when the verdict was rendered, and the jury discharged.”

Trump last month was found guilty on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records related to a 2016 hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels in order to boost his electoral prospects in the 2016 presidential election.

During the trial, Trump and his attorneys repeatedly bemoaned a stipulation in the judge’s limited gag order that prevented him from publicly responding to commentary about the case from witnesses in the proceedings, most notably Daniels and Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen.

Merchan restricted what Trump could say publicly about them and others involved in the case out of concern for the integrity of the trial.

The judge’s ruling Tuesday left in place the portion of the gag order protecting members of the court staff, District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s staff, and their families.

“Until sentence is imposed, all individuals covered by Paragraph (b)” — referring to members of the court staff, the district attorney’s staff and their families — “must continue to perform their lawful duties free from threats, intimidation, harassment, and harm,” Merchan wrote in the ruling.

And although he struck the portion of the gag order pertaining to jurors, Merchan wrote that it would be his “strong preference” to extend those protections because there remains “ample evidence to justify continued concern for the jurors.”

An earlier prohibition on releasing personal information about jurors will remain in effect.

Trump is scheduled to be sentenced in the case on July 11.

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