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Trump finds new ways to get around gag order and attack judge’s daughter

Former president Donald Trump has found new ways to push the envelope in criticising Judge Juan Merchan’s daughter and other elements of the New York criminal trial he deems “unfair” – even after the gag order was extended in the case.

On Monday, Judge Merchan expanded the gag order to include family members of the court staff after Mr Trump attacked the judge’s daughter Loren Merchan, who has worked on Democratic campaigns.

The order now prevents Mr Trump from publicly commenting about witnesses, prosecutors, court staff, jurors and now the family of court staff to prevent any harm to the trial which is slated to begin 15 April.

But on social media, the former president has found ways to skirt the order by sharing his opinions in other ways: by re-posting clips of others criticising Ms Merchan and using vague language in his own posts.

Just one day after the new gag order was imposed, Mr Trump wrote on Truth Social: “I just was informed that another corrupt New York Judge, Juan Merchan, GAGGED me so that I can not talk about the corruption and conflicts taking place in his courtroom.”

The former president also posted a clip from Fox News where host Brian Kilmeade claimed Judge Merchan’s daughter is “a[n] activist who works for Kamala Harris” and purported that she may have posted a photo on “a website” of Mr Trump behind bars.

Mr Kilmeade insinuated the connection could hurt the integrity of the case. He also called it “outrageous” that a prosecutor on the case knew President Joe Biden while working in the Department of Justice (DoJ).

Mr Trump’s legal team also hit out at Ms Merchan in a motion requesting Judge Merchan be recused from the case – citing her job as a conflict of interest that would make it difficult for the judge to preside over the case impartially.

Judge Juan Merchan could become the first judge ever to oversee a former U.S. president’s criminal trial (AP)
Judge Juan Merchan could become the first judge ever to oversee a former U.S. president’s criminal trial (AP)

It is unclear if re-posting the Fox News clip or using vague language about “courtroom corruption” violates the gag order, though Mr Trump did not make the comments himself.

But using loopholes to discredit the people involved in a trial is a tactic Mr Trump has invoked before and will likely continue doing.

During his New York civil fraud case, Mr Trump attacked the legal clerk of the judge overseeing the case leading to a gag order.

The former president then violated that gag order by using vague language to attack the legal clerk on Truth Social. He referred to her as “a person who is very partisan sitting alongside” the judge.

When confronted by the judge in the courtroom, Mr Trump claimed he was referring to his former lawyer Michael Cohen. The judge found that argument not credible and he was hit with a financial penalty.