OAN Brooke Mallory
UPDATED 4:37 PM – Thursday, May 4, 2023
Donald Trump’s attorney Todd Blanche announced on Thursday that he will be working to get the criminal case transferred from a Manhattan state court to federal court.
The lawyer told New York Judge Juan Merchan that “the defense anticipates later today seeking removal of this case to federal court.”
However, there was no mention of the reasoning behind the request.
Despite becoming the first former president in American history to be indicted, Trump had chosen not to appear at the hearing, which took place one month after his arraignment on April 4th. In response to 34 felony counts of falsifying business documents, the Republican entered a not guilty plea.
The charges, which concern an alleged “hush money” payment made to porn actress Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential election, have been categorically refuted by Trump.
Judge Merchan heard debates regarding whether or not to impose a protective order preventing Trump from publicly addressing specific evidence provided by prosecutors in the case at the hearing on Thursday.
A planned order by prosecutors working for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg had been rejected by Trump’s legal team. On Thursday, Blanche stated that any restrictions placed on Trump “amount to a gag order.”
Merchan, who had not yet decided on the subject, stated on Thursday that he is inclined to move forward with what he called a “standard” order, which barred Trump from disclosing information that has been given to his team by prosecutors but has not yet been made public.
However, the judge insisted that he would not be placing a gag order and will not stop Trump from expressing his views or defending himself, in light of anything that is already in the public eye.
Regarding Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign, Merchan said, “I’m bending over backwards and straining to ensure that he is given every opportunity possible to advance his candidacy.”
The judge then restated his concerns about restricting any presidential candidate’s free speech rights, especially speech expressed during an arraignment.
“In addition to your client being special, and I don’t mean that in a negative way at all, with that comes the responsibility that his words can have consequences,” said Merchan, whose impartiality has been questioned by Trump’s team.
Trump’s lawyers stated in a Monday filing that the prosecutor’s request “would be an unprecedented and extraordinarily broad muzzle on a leading contender for the presidency of the United States.”
“There is nothing there that would prevent your client to not only speak about the case, to speak in his defense, and to speak out powerfully,” said Merchan.
On April 24th, a prosecutor requested the order and cited “offensive social media posts” and comments made about former special counsel Robert Mueller and his investigation into possible ties between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia, his two impeachment inquiries, and a Fulton County, Georgia, inquiry into potential efforts to sabotage the 2020 presidential election.
Despite the fact that the “Russian collusion” conspiracy regarding what Democrats believed to be Russia’s efforts in helping Trump win the 2016 election has now been disproven, no one who promoted this prior narrative was prosecuted for spreading false information.
Prosecutors suggested that Trump should only be permitted to access data from forensic photos of witnesses’ phones with their authorization, or the court is likewise challenged by the defense lawyers.
Merchan hinted that he might support Trump’s defense team, who claimed that they could only provide him with information that was essential to their argument and defense.
After the order had been issued, Trump would be required to appear in court virtually to demonstrate that he understands its terms, according to Merchan. The judge also pushed back the schedule he originally set on April 4th when he said it would be in January, asking the two sides to consult on a trial date in either February or March of 2024.
Trump is anticipated to show up for the trial, according to Merchan.
“He cannot agree to any appearances, speaking engagements, anything of that kind that might interfere,” the judge maintained.
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