Donald Trump

‘Lacking all credibility’: Judge lambastes Donald Trump lawyers

Author: Editors Desk, Benedict Brook in New York Source: News Corp Australia Network:
April 23, 2024 at 16:27


Donald Trump has been told he risks prison if he continues to defy the judge in his New York his money trial.

The former US president sat in a Manhattan court on Tuesday (US time) as prosecution and defence lawyers argued whether he had breached a gag order that sought to prevent him making public comment on the trial and many of the people involved in it such as witnesses.

At one point, Judge Juan Merchan told Mr Trump’s lawyer that his arguments were so weak he was “losing all credibility with the court”.

The gag order accusation are a sideshow to the main court event where Mr Trump, 77, is charged with falsifying business records to buy the silence of porn star Stormy Daniels over a 2006 sexual encounter that could have impacted his 2016 presidential bid.

Prosecution witnesses are expected to include Ms Daniels and Mr Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen, who arranged the alleged $200,000 ($US130,000) hush money payment to the adult film actor.

 

Former US president and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, flanked by lawyer Todd Blanche (L) arrives at Manhattan Criminal Court. (Photo by Brendan McDermid / POOL / AFP)
Former US president and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, flanked by lawyer Todd Blanche (L) arrives at Manhattan Criminal Court. (Photo by Brendan McDermid / POOL / AFP)

 

Jail time

The trial was delayed on Tuesday while the judge heard arguments about Mr Trump’s use of social media.

“His attacks on witnesses clearly violate the order,” prosecution lawyer Chris Conroy told Judge Merchan at the hearing to determine whether the former president should be held in contempt of court.

“He knows about the (gag) order, he knows what he’s not allowed to do, and he does it anyway,” Mr Conroy said.“His disobedience of the order is wilful, it’s intentional,” he said urging Judge Merchan to impose a maximum $1540 ($US1000) fine for each of the up to 10 posts on Mr Trump’s Truth Social platform found to be in violation of the gag order and for the messages to be removed.

“We are not yet seeking an incarceratory penalty,” Mr Conroy said, but the court should, “remind him that incarceration is an option should it be necessary.”

 

Teh case centres around payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP)
The case centres around payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP)

 

Trump responding to ‘political attacks’

Mr Trump’s lawyer Todd Blanche argued that his social media post were in response to others criticising him and so should be allowed.

“There is no dispute that President Trump is facing a barrage of political attacks from all sides including from the two witnesses (Ms Daniels and Mr Cohen) who are referenced in the early posts,” said Mr Blanche.

Judge Merchan asked Mr Trump’s lawyer to indicate which specific “political attacks” he was referring too. But Mr Blanche seemed unable to locate a comment or post from either Ms Daniels or Mr Cohen that might warrant a response from Mr Trump.

“I keep asking you over and over again for a specific answer, and I’m not getting an answer,” Judge Merchan said to Mr Blanche.

“There’s no specific post that you’re referring to?

“You’ve presented nothing. I’ve asked you eight or nine times to show me the exact post he was responding to. You’ve been unable to do that even once,” the judge said at times seemingly, g getting exasperated with the lawyer.

 

Former US President Donald Trump in court on April 23, 2024. (Photo by Curtis Means / POOL / AFP)
Former US President Donald Trump in court on April 23, 2024. (Photo by Curtis Means / POOL / AFP)

 

‘Losing all credibility’

Mr Blanche then tried to argue that of the 10 social media posts under scrutiny, seven were not violations of the gag order at they were reports rather than original posts.

“Re-posing an article from a news site … we don’t believe are a violation of the gag order.

“It’s just common sense”.

Judge Merchan was unimpressed by the lawyer’s justifications for Mr Trump’s posts or the comment by him that Mr Trump was “trying to comply” with the gag order.

“Mr Blanche you’re losing all credibility, I have to tell you right now … You’re losing all credibility with the court.”

The judge said he would reserve his decision on whether or not Mr Trump had violated the gag order.

 

Donald Trump gestures while walking in a hallway outside the courtroom after the gag order arguments on April 23. (Photo by Brendan McDermid / POOL / AFP)
Donald Trump gestures while walking in a hallway outside the courtroom after the gag order arguments on April 23. (Photo by Brendan McDermid / POOL / AFP)

 

The court then took a break before the main part of the trial sat again after its first day on Monday.

During that time, Mr Trump took to social media again.

“Judge Merchan has taken away my constitutional right to free speech,” Mr Trump wrote, in his characteristic all capitals.

“Everybody is allowed to talk and like about me, but I am not allowed to defend myself. This is a kangaroo court.”

He again said that the judge should recuse himself for the trail because he claimed he is “highly conflicted”.

That post won’t get Mr Trump in trial because Judge Merchan has specifically excluded the former Presidnet's comments about him from the gag order.

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