Juan Merchan

Judge Merchan Threatens Trump With “Immediate Arrest and Imprisonment” Over Gag Order Violations

(The Epoch Times)—The judge presiding over former President Donald Trump’s criminal trial in New York has issued an order requiring the former president to attend a court hearing on his alleged violations of a gag order, with the judge threatening that failure to appear could lead to his immediate arrest and imprisonment.

New York State Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan issued the order on April 25, setting a court hearing for May 1 at which he’ll weigh four alleged instances of President Trump’s violating a gag order.

“Warning: your failure to appear in court may result in your immediate arrest and imprisonment for contempt of court,” the judge wrote.

Besides the threat of imprisonment for missing the hearing, President Trump also faces the prospect of being sent to jail for up to 30 days if he’s found to have violated the gag order.

Each instance of violating the gag order also carries a possible fine of $1,000.

A request for comment on the matter of the potential arrest and imprisonment sent to the Trump campaign was not immediately returned.

‘Great Honor’

Judge Merchan first imposed the gag order on President Trump on March 26, then expanded it on April 1 to prohibit the former president from making comments about the judge’s and the district attorney’s family members.

he gag order came after President Trump accused Justice Merchan of bias and corruption and later alleged that his daughter, Loren Merchan, has a partisan interest in the case because she leads a political marketing firm that has represented President Trump’s political opponents, receiving millions from them.

President Trump, who’s on trial for allegedly falsifying 34 business records in an alleged scheme to suppress negative news stories ahead of the 2016 election, has said in the past that it would be a “great honor” to be jailed for violating the gag order.

“If this Partisan Hack wants to put me in the ‘clink’ for speaking the open and obvious TRUTH, I will gladly become a Modern Day Nelson Mandela – It will be my GREAT HONOR,” President Trump said in a post on social media.

As the former president’s trial kicked off last week, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office leveled accusations that President Trump violated his gag order at least 10 times in social media posts.

Judge Merchan heard arguments on Mr. Bragg’s allegations on April 23, and said he would reserve his decision.

At the time, Trump attorney Todd Blanche told Judge Merchan that, “President Trump is being very careful to comply with your order.”

Four New Alleged Gag Order Violations

Since then, prosecutors have leveled additional gag order violation accusations against the former president. They listed four new allegations in an April 25 filing: two instances of critical remarks he made about his former lawyer Michael Cohen, a witness in the case; accusing Judge Merchan of “rushing the trial like crazy” and picking “95% Democrats” to sit on the jury; and calling another witness in the trial, David Pecker, a “nice guy.”

The prosecutors argued that all instances amounted to violations of the gag order because the comments related to jurors and witnesses in the proceedings. They asked Judge Merchan to set a court hearing and force President Trump to “show cause why he should not be held in criminal contempt of the Court’s order restricting extrajudicial speech.”

Judge Merchan sided with the prosecutor’s request in his order later that same day, setting the May 1 date for the hearing and warning the former president that he could “immediately” end up in handcuffs if he failed to show up.

President Trump said earlier this week that he believes the gag order is a violation of his First Amendment rights.

“Well, I think the gag order is totally unconstitutional,” he said outside a courtroom.

“I’m not allowed to talk, but people are allowed to talk about me,” he continued, while adding that President Joe Biden could be out campaigning while he was stuck in a courtroom with a “very conflicted judge.”

President Trump has accused Judge Merchan of bias and his attorneys have pushed for his recusal—which the judge has refused.

Judge Merchan also told President Trump that he must show up for court every day that it is in session or he’ll face an arrest. The trial is expected to last around eight weeks.

In the case, Mr. Bragg’s office has accused President Trump of falsifying business records to allegedly cover up payments to adult performer Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, in a bid to prevent her from going public with claims that they were involved in an extramarital relationship in 2006. President Trump denies there was any affair and has accused her of lying and trying to profit from the sensational allegations.

President Trump has also pleaded not guilty to the 34 counts of falsifying business records, arguing that the case is a form of election interference as he campaigns for the presidency.