Partisan Judge Maintains Gag Order Silencing Trump in Ongoing Legal Battle


Even after a Manhattan court found former President Donald Trump guilty of serious charges, Judge Juan Merchan refuses to lift a gag order on the GOP’s presidential candidate.

The highly partisan judge issued the gag order in March, preventing Trump from speaking publicly about prosecutors, witnesses, jurors, and others involved in the case against him. In essence, Merchan has silenced Trump’s ability to comment on what he has often termed a “witch hunt” against him.

This represents a significant disadvantage when your political opponent is campaigning on the extensive list of felony charges brought against you — charges initiated by agents and allies of your political adversary.

The Silent Treatment

Merchan’s gag order has only been partially effective, of course. Trump is not known for his silence. He has defied the order multiple times and been fined the maximum $1,000 for each of the 10 violations. That’s a minor cost for Trump. Nevertheless, the judge has also threatened to imprison the former president for speaking out, asserting that Trump’s criticism of the legal process poses a threat to those he criticizes.

As Forbes reported, the left’s Public Enemy No. 1 “appeared to push the limits of the order in his remarks on Friday even as he repeatedly noted he was restricted in what he could say…” Trump called serial liar and prosecution star witness Michael Cohen a “sleazebag” without naming his disgraced former attorney.

Trump, too, is being silenced in a separate gag order in the stalled federal prosecution on allegations that he tried to “overturn the 2020 election” — a case led by Biden’s Department of Justice. As Forbes reported, Trump and other parties in the case are prohibited from publicly talking about witnesses “concerning their potential participation in the investigation or in this criminal proceeding.”

“Parties also cannot make public statements about court staff, counsel in the case or their families (with the exception of Special Counsel Jack Smith, who’s leading the government’s investigation) if they’re ‘made with the intent to materially interfere,’” the publication reported.

The gag orders are claimed to protect the government officials working the case. Conveniently, they also silence Democrat President Joe Biden’s Republican challenger — under the threat of jail.

‘Darkest’ Doe

Many conservatives in Wisconsin can relate. They endured years of abuse during the Badger State’s John Doe investigation, an unconstitutional probe led by leftist officials and partisan Democrat prosecutors.

The second wave of politically motivated campaign finance investigations culminated in a series of predawn, armed raids on the homes and offices of conservative activists. On Oct. 3, 2013, law enforcement agents were ordered to collect “evidence” in what has been described as one of the darkest chapters in Wisconsin history. As the MacIver Institute reported: 

Armed police demanded a 16-year-old boy, home alone, open the door so that agents engaged in an unconstitutional investigation could root through his parents’ possessions … [A] suburban Madison mom was awakened by sounds in the darkness. Moments later, her children woke up to armed deputies standing over their beds. On Oct. 3, 2013, the politically driven probe known as ‘John Doe II’ exhibited the full force of prosecutorial abuse, exhibiting why this secret investigation marked one of the darkest chapters in Wisconsin history.

It all started a few years before. The John Doe investigations were essentially a court-sanctioned effort to target then-Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican who angered the left by reducing the power of Wisconsin’s public sector labor unions.

It was initiated by Milwaukee County’s Democrat District Attorney John Chisholm and his team. The probe was eventually expanded into a broader statewide operation supported by a flawed interpretation of campaign finance law and a partisan state election regulator.

Secret Power

In July 2015, the Wisconsin Supreme Court finally ended the excessive probe, concluding that John Doe prosecutors had committed a “perfect storm of wrongs.” That ruling, which highlighted extensive abuses of the victims’ First Amendment rights, came after years of fear and towering legal expenses.

Targets of the secret probe faced $10,000 fines and six months in jail for speaking publicly about the raids or the case, including asserting their innocence. Although John Doe prosecutors were also supposed to remain silent, details about the alleged illegal activities mysteriously surfaced in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and other outlets during Walker’s reelection year.

As MacIver reported:

Children subjected to government raids before the break of dawn were told that they and their parents could go to jail if they told anyone about the John Doe investigation. National Review’s David French wrote about a 16-year-old who was home alone when John Doe investigators came pounding on his door. ‘To his horror, he saw uniformed officers, their guns drawn. ‘Police,’ they yelled. ‘We have a warrant.’ An officer shined a flashlight on a document (he) couldn’t read. Unsure what to do, but unwilling to defy the authorities, he let them in,’ French wrote. The officers sat him down, read him the entire search warrant, and ordered him not to tell anyone about the raid — not even school officials. He asked if he could call his parents. They said no. He asked if he could call a lawyer. They said no.’ Investigators then rooted through the family’s home looking for evidence of a political crime, French wrote.

John Doe ‘Writ Large’

Ultimately, the corrupt Government Accountability Board, the state’s campaign finance and election regulator that helped drive the John Doe probes, was dismantled, and the constitutionally questionable John Doe law was reformed. Republicans replaced the GAB with agencies staffed by some of the same bureaucrats involved in the original investigations.

U.S. Rep. Tom Tiffany, a Republican, was a state senator at the time of the Supreme Court’s ruling. He played a crucial role in reforming the law and agency responsible for the unconstitutional John Doe investigations. As Trump began his presidency amid chaos from leftists determined to bring him down, Tiffany made a remarkably accurate prediction.

“What happened in Wisconsin … is being writ large across the country,” Tiffany told me.

John Doe is alive and well in the government’s prosecution of Donald J. Trump.

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