Former President Donald Trump has been prohibited by a judge from disclosing evidence or any related material pertaining to his ongoing criminal case in New York. The charges against him involve falsifying business records associated with a payment made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels in 2016. Judge Juan Merchan has also barred Trump from accessing any evidence except in the presence of his attorneys, and from copying the material. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office had requested the protective order, expressing concern that Trump may misuse the information or post it on social media or other platforms.
Trump’s lawyers opposed the request, which concerns “discovery material” such as legal documents and correspondence exchanged before a trial. Despite pleading not guilty, Trump, who is a top candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, was arraigned in court last month for the case. While Trump refutes having had a sexual encounter with Daniels, he reimbursed his former lawyer Michael Cohen for the payment, which was reported as a legal expense in business records.
“Donald J. Trump has a longstanding and perhaps singular history of attacking witnesses, investigators, prosecutors, trial jurors, grand jurors, judges, and others involved in legal proceedings against him, putting those individuals and their families at considerable safety risk,” according to the prosecution’s request for a protective order, assistant DA Catherine McCaw.
In his order on Monday, Judge Merchan stated that any material provided by the DA’s office to Trump’s lawyers should only be used to prepare a defense for the current case. The covered materials should not be copied, disseminated, or disclosed to any third party, including posting it on social media sites. Merchan also ruled that the names and identifying information of DA employees in the case, other than sworn members of law enforcement, assistant DAs, and expert witnesses, would be delayed until the beginning of jury selection.