Trial Judge Rips Trump Over Attacks On His Daughter And Tightens Gag Order

INSIDE: Hope Hicks ... Don Hankey ... Peter Navarro
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 25: Former President Donald Trump speaks to the media moments after he was fined $10,000 for what Justice Arthur Engoron says is his second violation of a partial gag order at his civil f... NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 25: Former President Donald Trump speaks to the media moments after he was fined $10,000 for what Justice Arthur Engoron says is his second violation of a partial gag order at his civil fraud trial at New York State Supreme Court on October 25, 2023 in New York City. The former president may be forced to sell off his properties after Justice Engoron canceled his business certificates and ruled that he committed fraud for years while building his real estate empire after being sued by Attorney General Letitia James, seeking $250 million in damages. The trial will determine how much he and his companies will be penalized for the fraud. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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A Judge Who Gets It

The trial judge in Trump’s hush money case has done everyone a service by properly identifying Trump’s public rhetorical attacks on his daughter as an effort to delegitimize the judicial system, attack the rule of law, and cow into submission anyone involved in holding Trump to account.

In a searing five-page ruling, New York state Judge Juan Merchan expanded the existing gag order against Trump to include family members of the judge and the prosecutor. In so doing, he conceded that the original gag order had not contemplated protecting family members, and therefore Trump had not violated it.

But it was less the expansion of the gag order than Merchan’s descriptive language that struck the right chord in this perilous time (emphases are his):

[T]his pattern of attacking family members of presiding jurists and attorneys assigned to his cases serves no legitimate purpose. It merely injects fear in those assigned or called to participate in the proceedings, that not only they, but their family members as well, are “fair game” for Defendant’s vitriol.


The average observer, must now, after hearing Defendant’s recent attacks, draw the conclusion that if they become involved in these proceedings, even tangentially, they should worry not only for themselves, but for their loved ones as well. Such concerns will undoubtedly interfere with the fair administration of justice and constitutes a direct attack on the Rule of Law itself.

The peril of the current moment is that Trump’s rhetorical attacks are a precursor to and a necessary ingredient of the explosive concoction that produces political violence. Real violence. He knows. He likes it. He’s drawn to it.

While a gag order was a necessary step to protect the sanctity of the upcoming trial, it’s not going to be enough by itself to head off the political violence Trump has unleashed and keeps holding over the head of the Republic like a sword of Damocles.

Hope Hicks Expected To Testify For Prosecution

Former Trump 2016 campaign press secretary Hope Hicks is expected to be called as a prosecution witness in the hush money trial, NBC News reports.

Trump Beats Deadline With $175M Bond

I know many of you were chagrined that an appeals court let Trump off the hook by lowering the appeal bond requirement to a mere $175 million in his New York civil fraud case. But this remains a mixed bag of a result for Trump, too.

Yes, demanding he post the full $454 million would have added to his financial strain and perhaps (though not assuredly) forced him into bankruptcy.

But the $175 million bond he obtained yesterday ahead of his Thursday deadline remains a lot of money. Significantly for Trump, it is now there for the taking by state Attorney General Letitia James if Trump loses on appeal – rather than her having to fight through bankruptcy proceedings or initiate actions against various Trump properties.

As for the collateral Trump put up for the bond, an executive involved in the transaction told ABC News that it was all cash, but also said that he couldn’t remember if some investment-grade bonds ended up as part of the collateral, too. Suspicious about who would do this kind of business with Trump? Here’s some fodder for you:

Trump secured the bond through Knight Specialty Insurance Company, which is owned by the privately-held Hankey Group, whose chairman told ABC News that he considers himself a Donald Trump supporter.

“This is what we do at Knight Insurance, and we’re happy to be able to accommodate the ex-president in this situation,” Don Hankey told ABC News. “I’d say it’s more of a business decision, but I happen to be a supporter also.”

A related note: There are a huge number of issues to contest on appeal, and I suspect the final award will still be substantial but probably less than what was awarded by the trial judge. Either way, James is in a good position once appeals are exhausted many months from now.

Donald Trump Is A Living Breathing Meme Stock

Bloomberg’s Matt Levine: “A lot of people want to associate themselves with Donald Trump, and also for some reason want to make him richer, and Trump Media’s stock is a quite straightforward way to do that. Why does it have to have any relation to the underlying business?”

Double Whammy

A divided 4-3 Florida Supreme Court cleared the way for a proposed constitutional amendment protecting abortion rights to be on the November ballot.

Getting the amendment on the ballot, where it will require a 60% majority to pass, is a huge victory for abortion-rights proponents. It also fundamentally changes the politics on the ground this cycle, though it’s decidedly unclear whether it will be enough to move the dial for Democratic candidates in increasingly red Florida.

In the meantime, access to abortion in the state will be seriously curtailed, as the high court also allowed the state’s new 15-week abortion ban to go into effect, which will trigger a six-week ban in 30 days.

The End Is Nigh

The great Sarah Posner on the apocalyptic dog whistle Donald Trump is using to woo evangelical Christians:

However macabre this sounds to outsiders, to evangelicals steeped in end-times prophecy, these nightmarish scenarios are real. They believe they are waging spiritual warfare against demonic spirits bent on destroying an America God intended to be a Christian nation. For them, Trump’s accomplishments are more than just a checklist of judges and abortion policy; his entire being is a divinely ordained force powerful enough to upend Satan’s plans.

Texas Federal Judges Defy New Anti-Judge-Shopping Rule

Federal judges in the Northern District of Texas are vowing to defy new guidance from the Judicial Conference that is intended to blunt the blatant judge-shopping the right-wing legal movement engages in to land friendly judges in one- or two-judge districts. The Northern District of Texas includes the notorious Trump-appointed U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, the lone federal jurist in Amarillo, who has been a magnet for right-wing legal cases.

Peter Navarro Extends His Streak Of Legal Losses

Jailed Trump White House official Peter Navarro failed again in his quixotic quest not to comply with the Presidential Records Act by turning over to the National Archives his work-related Proton emails from his time in the administration. This time a federal appeals court rejected his absurd interpretation of the Watergate-era statute.

This Guy …

The 2024 wannabe spoiler Robert F. Kennedy Jr. declared on CNN last night that Joe Biden is a greater threat to democracy than Donald Trump.

Hunter Biden Loses Bid To Dismiss Criminal Tax Case

A federal judge in California rejected several of Hunter Biden’s long-shot bids to get his criminal tax case dismissed.

Last Survivor Of USS Arizona Attack Dies

HONOLULU – DECEMBER 7: With the submerged smoke stack of the USS Arizona looming in the background, Pearl Harbor survivors (L-R) Lou Conter, Ward Witmore, and current US Pacific Fleet Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael G. Mullen talk about the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor aboard the USS Arizona Memorial during the ceremony honoring the 64th anniversary of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor December 7, 2005 at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Around the country, Pearl Harbor survivors and others paid tribute to those lost during the December 7, 1941 Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. (Photo by Marco Garcia/Getty Images)

Lou Conter, a 20-year-old quartermaster, was standing on the main deck of the USS Arizona when the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor began. He died yesterday at the age of 102, the last survivor of the crew of the battleship whose sinking during the attack claimed the lives of 1,177 of his fellow servicemen.

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  1. $175M Bond: Follow the money!

  2. They only do this shit because they have nothing
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