On Tuesday afternoon, former President Donald Trump will be tried in his criminal case. Then, just a few hours later, he’s planning a news conference.
These two events, taken together, show his brand new legal risk: Now that he’s been accused legally, his normal manner of hurling incendiary insults at prosecutors has become far riskier than ever. It may even put him in prison according to BBC reports.
Former lawyers told VICE News that Trump will almost certainly face a gag order from the judge handling his case and that breaking that order could result in contempt of court, which could result in prison time. Judge Juan Merchan of the New York Supreme Court, who is handling Trump’s case, is likely to allow Trump many chances to cross the line before punishing him. But his tolerance may not be limitless.
“I will be very surprised if the issue of a gag order is not raised and seriously discussed at the arraignment,” said Robert Gottlieb, a former assistant district attorney in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, which is the prosecutorial office now charging Trump.
“This judge is going to be very concerned about the obvious attempt to influence potential jurors, as well as the incitement to engage in violence,” Gottlieb said. Judge Merchan “will do everything possible to control his courtroom and prevent violence.”
Trump has grown his racist attacks on Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, the prosecutor who revealed charges against Trump on Thursday since the case first came to light several weeks ago.
Trump has called Bragg, the first Black man ever elected Manhattan DA, an “animal” and a “racist,” while urging MAGA followers to “protest!” Trump warned that “potential death & destruction” could occur if he’s indicted, and called Bragg a “degenerate psychopath.” A group of about 175 former federal prosecutors slammed Trump in an open letter last week, warning that his statements “can be construed as inciting violence.”