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If you thought Donald Trump’s address at Mar-a-Lago was more scripted, disciplined, and above all—brief. You weren’t dreaming. It was, and the former president hit on all his points, especially on the prosecutorial overreach he’s facing with Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. The former president had just returned from New York City, where he was arraigned and indicted on biased political charges stemming from the Stormy Daniels hush payment arrangement that Mr. Bragg felt the lack of disclosure was akin to election fraud.
We and others have noted that Mr. Trump's charges were misdemeanors that this DA elevated to felonies, though the statute of limitations had expired. Bragg’s office argues that the limitations clock got paused by then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo when the COVID pandemic hit. At his arraignment, the judge, who has a glaring conflict of interest which Mia covered yesterday, ordered Trump to be careful what he says. Circling back to the judge for a second, we might as well have an immediate Biden family member presiding over this case.
There is no gag order on Trump, who is now comfortably the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican nomination, something that Democrats want more than anything other than Trump in jail. Still, they know that’s not going to happen. The goal is to keep the former president in an endless loop of scandal and controversy while degrading his stock with moderate and independent voters. Yet, the judge’s non-gag order all but issues one—it’s highly subjective. In the words of Admiral Ackbar, “it’s a trap” (via NY Post):
The Manhattan judge who presided over Donald Trump’s arraignment Tuesday warned the former president to not make statements that could incite violence – but stopped short of issuing a gag order in the case.
Trump, 76, and the witnesses that prosecutors intend to call should both, “refrain from making statements likely to incite violence or create civil unrest,” Judge Juan Merchan said during the hearing in Manhattan Supreme Court.
Prosecutor Christopher Conroy raised Trump’s recent use of incendiary language on his Truth Social media platform, highlighting a number of the posts during the proceeding and handing the judge several examples printed on paper.
The posts included an image Trump shared of himself “wielding a baseball bat at the head of the district attorney,” and another in which he threatened his then-looming indictment could trigger “death and destruction.”
Well, that’s freedom of speech, and muzzling the frontrunner for the GOP nomination is also bad politics, whether you like Trump or not. Yet, how this recommendation was framed is so broad that anything the DA’s office might not like could be construed as “making statements likely to incite violence or create civil unrest.” That’s by design. They’re banking that Trump cannot maintain the disciplined demeanor he possessed at Mar-a-Lago last night. Once he returns to his bull in the china closet routine, the legal complaints from prosecutors will come flying. It’s yet another legal trap that the anti-Trump legal world has set for the former president, who should know better, along with his staff.
Everyone is waiting for Trump to trip up and spew a ‘burn it all down’ type of remark. Don’t fall for it.