Trump targets two likely witnesses ahead of his criminal trial, despite gag order

US News

In this courtroom sketch, Michael Cohen looks toward former U.S. President Donald Trump as he is questioned by a lawyer for the attorney general’s office, during the Trump Organization civil fraud trial in New York State Supreme Court in the Manhattan borough of New York City on Oct. 24, 2023.

Jane Rosenberg | Reuters

Donald Trump on Saturday took aim at two likely witnesses in his upcoming New York hush money trial, testing the boundaries of a gag order that prohibits such public statements.

“Has Mark POMERANTZ been prosecuted for his terrible acts in and out of the D.A.’s Office. Has disgraced attorney and felon Michael Cohen been prosecuted for LYING?” the former president posted on Truth Social.

The social media post is the latest challenge to the limits of a gag order that forbids Trump from making public statements about likely witnesses and jurors.

Cohen previously worked as Trump’s personal lawyer and is likely to be a key witness in the trial. In 2018, he pleaded guilty to charges related to hush money payments to two women in 2016, which he said were made “at the direction” of an unnamed 2016 presidential candidate. He is expected to name Trump at the upcoming trial.

Pomerantz is a former prosecutor who once led the Manhattan District Attorney Office’s investigation into Trump’s hush money payments before he resigned from the case in 2022.

The trial is scheduled to kick off jury selection on Monday, where Trump will face 34 counts related to falsifying business records, allegedly to hide a $130,000 hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016. That start date was delayed from March 25 to give Trump’s legal team time to review new documents.

On March 26, New York State Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan, who is presiding over the case, imposed the initial gag order, which he later expanded after Trump continuously went after Merchan’s daughter for her work with a Democratic political consulting firm.

In the weeks since, Trump has repeatedly gambled on the limits of the gag order.

In a Truth Social post on Wednesday, Trump attacked Cohen and Daniels, another likely witness, calling them “two sleaze bags.”

Trump has previously said it would be a “great honor” to go to jail for gag order violations and likened himself to a “Modern Day Nelson Mandela,” the former president of South Africa who spent decades in prison for opposing apartheid.

It would not be the first time Trump has faced consequences for disobeying a gag order. In a separate trial in October, Judge Arthur Engoron fined Trump $10,000 for gag order violations.

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