MSNBC legal analyst accused Trump of 'daring' Judge Merchan to jail him with another alleged gag order violation

 May 17, 2024

Judge Juan Merchan, who is presiding over former President Donald Trump's criminal trial in New York, threatened Trump last week with possible jail time for any further violations of a gag order that he imposed to restrict Trump's speech before the trial began last month.

On Thursday, an MSNBC legal analyst accused Trump of violating the gag order again with comments about a prosecutor and suggested the former president was "daring" the judge to make good on the threat to jail him before the trial has concluded, according to RawStory.

Merchan's gag order restricts Trump from speaking about jurors and witnesses, court employees and members of the prosecution, and their families, with an exception for comments about the judge himself and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

It "seemed like Trump was daring him to do it"

During MSNBC's Thursday night coverage of the Trump trial, network host Alicia Menendez asserted that "Trump appeared to talk about one of the prosecutors in the trial today," and played a brief video clip of Trump referencing former federal prosecutor Matthe Colangelo as he stated, "A lead person from the DOJ is running the trial, so Biden's office is running this trial."

Menendez said, "Not true, just to fact-check that, Biden is not running this trial," and then turned her attention to legal correspondent Lisa Rubin and asked, "What is he doing there?" Rubin replied, "What he is really doing is daring Judge Merchan to put him in jail."

"Because the last time Donald Trump was penalized for violating the gag order, Judge Merchan made it very clear to Donald Trump, you do this one more time and I have other remedies at my disposal," she continued. "The statute only provides me with two. One is a fine of up to $1,000 for each violation and the other is jail. I don't want to exercise the jail option. It would be inconvenient, it would be disruptive to the administration of justice, but I will if I have to."

"And it almost seemed like Trump was daring him to do it, just to throw a bomb into the proceeding as it reaches its inevitable conclusion," Rubin said. "We did not hear from the D.A. today. We have not heard the full transcript yet, so it is possible they mentioned it on the sidebar, but so far in open court the district attorney's office has not said this counts as a violation."

"That doesn't mean they won't and on Monday or beyond we might hear from the D.A.'s office that while they don't want this to interfere with the rest of the trial, it's possible they will say to the judge as it reaches its conclusion, 'Hey, this happened while the jury was out and now it is time to take action,'" she added.

Trump said he'd be "proud" to be jailed in defense of free speech rights

It was just last week that Judge Merchan fined former President Trump another $1,000, bringing the total thus far up to $10,000, for an alleged violation of the gag order in late April, in which Trump mused about the likely Democratic leanings of a majority of the Manhattan jury, according to Politico.

That is when Merchan threatened possible jail time for any future violations of the gag order, but Trump brushed off that threat and told reporters later of the disputed limitations on his free speech, "Frankly our Constitution is much more important than jail. It’s not even close. I’ll do that sacrifice any day."

Just a few days later, according to The Hill, Trump again addressed the judge's threat of jail while speaking to reporters outside the courtroom, and said, "If anything is mentioned against certain people, and you know who they are, certain people, anything’s even mentioned, he wants to put me in jail."

He added, "And that could happen one day. And I’d be very proud to go to jail for our Constitution. Because what he’s doing is so unconstitutional."

Gag order appeal filed with New York's highest court

CBS News reported earlier this week that Trump has now filed an appeal against the judge's gag order with the New York Supreme Court after the mid-level Appellate Division upheld the restrictions imposed on the former president's speech about the prosecutorial effort against him.

"President Trump has filed a notice to appeal the unconstitutional and un-American gag order imposed by conflicted Judge Juan Merchan in the lawless Manhattan DA case," Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said. "The threat to throw the 45th President of the United States and the leading candidate in the 2024 presidential election in jail for exercising his First Amendment rights is a Third World authoritarian tactic typical of Crooked Joe Biden and his comrades."

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