(TStarnes) – A New York state judge ruled that former President Trump will not be able to publicly discuss or post certain evidence in Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s criminal “hush money” case.
Justice Juan Merchan said his ruling applies to evidence obtained by the prosecution and turned over to the leading 2024 Republican presidential candidate to prepare for trial.
“I am not going to do anything … to infringe on his First Amendment rights,” Merchan said.
Trump’s team argued the proposed order is too restrictive and that Trump has a right to comment on the evidence, both to defend himself and as a candidate.
“Obviously, Mr Trump is different. It would be foolish to say he is not… He is different,” Merchan said. “I have to apply the law. I have to apply the law to him as I see it, and in that regard, I am bending over backward and straining to allow him to advance his candidacy and speak in furtherance.”
The judge asked both sides if they would agree on a trial date in 2024, in the middle of the presidential primary season.
Trump lawyer Todd Blanche told Merchan he would seek removal of the case to federal court.
It was the first hearing in the case since Trump was formally arraigned last month on 34 counts of falsifying business records on hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Trump, the first former president to be indicted, has pleaded not guilty to the charges.