Donald Trump Could Face Grilling Over Gag Order Notes

donald trump could face grilling over gag order notes

Donald Trump (C) sits in the courtroom with attorneys Todd Blanche (L) and Emil Bove (R) at Manhattan Criminal Court on May 14, 2024 in New York City. Trump has been accused of handing media statements to his supporters in violation of a gag order imposed in his hush money trial.

Donald Trump could be forced to testify about handwritten media statements he allegedly passed on to supporters in violation of his court-mandated gag order, a legal expert has told Newsweek.

Trump has been accused of writing notes for Republican politicians so that they can say his words for him, thereby circumventing the gag order in his hush money trial that bans him from speaking about witnesses, the judge or the jury.

New York University law professor, Stephen Gillers, told Newsweek that the court could force Trump to testify about the notes if they have already been destroyed or cannot be found. He said: "The notes can be subpoenaed from Trump or the recipients. If they've been destroyed, the recipients and Trump can be ordered to testify to the content."

Trump was hit with the gag order in March covering the criminal trial in which he denies 34 felony counts of falsifying documents. He is accused of hiding payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels for her silence before the 2016 presidential election about an affair with the former president, all of which he denies.

Since then, Trump has been accused of breaking the gag order on ten separate occasions, the latest of which came last week when he was held in contempt of court for a second time and fined $1,000 by Judge Juan Merchan, who threatened him with jail time for further breaches.

Gillers added that if the notes are between Trump and his lawyers, Trump will assert attorney/client privilege. "But privilege will not protect notes that are part of a scheme to violate the gag order. And if the lawyers were the go-betweens, which I doubt, they will also be in contempt," he said.

He said that Trump's political supporters have the right to say what they want about the trial if they are not being directed by Trump.

"So long as Trump is not behind it, anyone in the world who is not part of the trial defense can say what they like about the prosecution and the participants. It's their First Amendment right."

"But if Trump is behind it either by way of encouragement or actually providing the content, it violates the gag order," he said.

New York Magazine journalist Andrew Rice has said that Donald Trump was "making notations" and "editing" media statements for his political supporters while his hush money trial continued.

"In court yesterday, actually, I was sitting close enough that I could look over Trump's shoulder and see what he was reading," Rice said on MSNBC Live on Tuesday night. "At one point he was actually reading the quotes that these individuals were [going to say to the press]... and going through and making notations with a pen on the paper."

Former federal prosecutor Eric Lisann wrote that senior Republican politicians could be subpoenaed for acting as Trump's mouthpieces.

"Trump is not denying that he is directing others to speak in ways that are violations of the gag order—which is a violation of the gag order," Lisann wrote on X, formerly Twitter, on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama urged fellow Republicans to help Trump "overcome" the gag order.

Tuberville attended the Trump trial on Monday and strongly criticized the trial to the media gathered outside.

Newsweek sought email comment from Trump's attorney and from Tuberville on Thursday.

During an interview with the conservative TV channel, Newsmax, on Tuesday, Tuberville said that circumventing Trump's gag order was one of the reasons he and other Republicans showed up at the trial the previous day.

"Hopefully we'll have more and more senators and congressmen go up every day and represent him," Tuberville said. "And be able to go out and overcome this gag order. That's one of the reasons we went, to be able to speak our piece for President Trump."

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