A New York judge will hear arguments Thursday over a proposed protective order in Donald Trump’s criminal case that would limit the former president’s ability to publicize information about the investigation.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office is seeking to restrain Trump’s access to the evidence it turns over to his attorneys, in part, it says, because of his social media posts about the District Attorney Alvin Bragg and witnesses in the case.
Trump will not be in attendance at Thursday’s hearing with Judge Juan Merchan.
The former president’s attorneys oppose the DA’s proposal, arguing that the state should be just as restrained as Trump from what information it can discuss publicly and says that Trump, as a presidential candidate, should have the ability to defend himself against the charges while campaigning.
“To state the obvious, there will continue to be significant public commentary about this case and his candidacy, to which he has a right and a need to respond, both for his own sake and for the benefit of the voting public,” Trump’s attorneys wrote.
The proposed protective order submitted by prosecutors, Trump’s attorneys wrote, “would severely hamper President Trump’s ability to publicly defend himself and prepare for trial.”
Trump’s attorneys are asking that any limitations to disclosing evidence in the case be placed on both Trump and the district attorney’s office. They criticized a press conference held by Bragg last month as revealing information that they say would be violated by the district attorney’s own proposed order.
“Surprisingly, the People apparently believe that New York law allows the District Attorney’s Office and its witnesses to freely speak and quote from grand jury evidence, but not President Trump or his counsel,” they wrote.
Prosecutors have cited Trump’s public attacks on Bragg and prosecution witness Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, as one reason to restrict what he could say. Trump’s attorneys contend that Bragg and former prosecutor Mark Pomerantz made “disparaging and obnoxious” comments about their client.
Manhattan prosecutors have accused Trump of falsifying business records with the intent to conceal illegal conduct connected to his 2016 presidential campaign. The criminal charges stem from Bragg’s investigation into hush money payments, made during the 2016 campaign, to women who claimed they had extramarital affairs with Trump, which he denies. Trump has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.