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Donald Trump’s allies are doing his dirty work while tiptoeing around his gag order

  • Donald Trump was warned not to go after accusers or witnesses again.

  • Now his allies are doing it.

  • Outside of his hush-money lawsuit, surrogates have gone on the offensive, adhering to the rules of a hush-hush order.

Donald Trump has tested the limits of his gag order in his hush money trial – with 10 violations culminating in a judge warning he could face jail time.

But while the former president has been unusually reticent of late, a cast of Republican lawmakers and Trump surrogates have descended on the court to complain about the proceedings.

US Senators and even the Speaker of the House of Representatives have trashed the trial just as prosecutors are calling their star witness, Trump’s former fixer. Michael Cohen.

Questions have been raised about whether the “surrogates” could violate Trump’s silence order.

Legal experts told Business Insider it depends on whether Trump directs them to speak — but warned that extending a joke to uninvolved parties could raise free speech concerns.

For now, Trump’s friends appear free to attack the process — as long as Trump doesn’t tell them to.

Allies are rallying behind Trump

Trump’s fleet of surrogates includes House Speaker Mike Johnson, Sens. JD Vance of Ohio and Rick Scott of Florida, and former presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy.

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Some guests, including Vance and Gov. Doug Burgum, have been identified as formal campaign representatives in other appearances, such as on TV, further blurring the line.

Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz (speaking on microphone) is joined by other Republicans in the House of Representatives to condemn the proceedings against Donald Trump.

Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz (speaking on microphone) is joined by other Republicans in the House of Representatives to condemn the proceedings against Donald Trump.Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

They “spoke very nicely,” Trump said, as he grilled witnesses and Judge Juan Merchan’s daughter.

On MSNBC, writer Andrew Rice said he saw Trump in court making the comments his surrogates would make.

A Trump campaign official told Business Insider that all supporters volunteered to come support their friend, and that none were invited by the campaign.

Some have been transparent about their intentions. Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, who has been put forward as a potential vice president, said this Newsmax One of the reasons he attended was to “overcome this gag order.”

Tuberville’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from BI.

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Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado said Thursday that a group of Republicans from the far-right House Freedom Caucus were in Manhattan to “stand with Trump.” She then attacked Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer.

“He wants President Trump to suffer and that’s why he did what he did,” Boebert told reporters at a news conference in a park near the courthouse. “That is why he has told the lies he has, and we are here today to counter them as we stand up for our friend President Donald J. Trump.”

According to the gag order, Trump is not allowed to comment on Cohen.

Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida later emphasized that the group was “here by choice, because there are things we can say that President Trump is wrongly not allowed to say.”

Trump walks a fine line

Andrew Lieb, a lawyer and legal analyst, said it is “a close call” whether Trump’s surrogates could cause further legal trouble, given the fine line between whether he directs or merely approves the aid.

“Dismissal of the gag order is not a slam dunk, because contempt requires the judge to find that Trump is the one directing his surrogates,” Lieb explained, although he warned: “Eventually he will learn that if you keep touching the fire, you will eventually get burned.” you.”

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Donald Trump leaves court on Thursday during a break in his hush money trial.Donald Trump leaves court on Thursday during a break in his hush money trial.

Donald Trump leaves court on Thursday during a break in his hush money trial.ANGELA WEISS/Getty Images

If Trump’s supporters suggest they have been recruited to act on his behalf, “the court could hold a hearing to see whether Trump has again violated the court’s order,” Laurie Levenson, a professor at Loyola Law School, told reporters. , to BI.

She said this could lead to further fines or even jail time.

But Neama Rahmani, a former federal prosecutor, told BI that Judge Merchan can do little “practically speaking” to stop lawmakers from speaking on Trump’s behalf.

“Elected officials have the right to campaign and discuss issues publicly,” Rahmani said. “It is a matter of free speech and a matter of public interest entitled to the fullest protection of the First Amendment.”

Former Indiana Attorney General Jeff Modisett added that the scope of silence orders typically “extend only to the parties directly involved in the case” and that courts have limited authority to enforce them further.

A judge could consider extending the silence order to Trump’s surrogates if they are deemed to threaten the integrity of the process, he said, but such a decision “would have to be carefully justified and weighed against the constitutional rights of free speech and press.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

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