‘Election Interference’: Bragg Case Gag Order Puts Unprecedented Limitations On Trump Campaign

(Rodger Roundy/Daily Caller)

Henry Rodgers Chief National Correspondent
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Allies close to former President Donald Trump are furious with the gag order imposed on him and his campaign by New York State Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan, telling the Daily Caller it is hamstringing his campaign like no other has been before.

On Tuesday, the start of week three of Trump’s Manhattan trial, Merchan held the 2024 Republican presidential nominee in contempt of court and issued a $9,000 fine for repeatedly violating a gag order. Merchan has also threatened jail time if Trump continues to violate the order.

Trump and his campaign have been barred from speaking about Matthew Colangelo, a lead prosecutor in the case who spent two years serving in the Biden administration’s Department of Justice (DOJ) as acting associate attorney general. After working near the top of the DOJ under Attorney General Merrick Garland, Colangelo joined the Manhattan District Attorney’s office as senior counsel in December 2022.

Many have raised questions about Colangelo’s move from DOJ to work in the Manhattan DA’s office at the same time District Attorney Alvin Bragg was investigating Trump for a $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels. (RELATED: Meet The Former Biden DOJ Official Who Jumped Ship To Prosecute Trump)

Bragg, who ran for office on convicting Trump as Manhattan District Attorney, indicted Trump on 34 counts of falsifying business records, all of which the former president plead not guilty to.

Trump and his campaign are also not allowed to speak about his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, or the jury. Cohen, who is a key witness in the case, has come under fire for discussing the case on TikTok while raising money for himself.

These limitations apply to the entire campaign, tying the hands of the Trump political operation to fight back on a critical issue in the presidential race, one source familiar with the situation told the Caller.

“The gag order says it applies to the president himself, and then it prevents him from instructing or ordering anybody else to do it. So, legally, that basically applies to anybody who works for him. And since he is considered basically the chairman of the campaign or the top dog on the campaign, the campaign applies to everybody who is on campaign staff.”

The source also said they know Democrats are watching Trump’s every move, including his social media posts and campaign website, and described the gag order as “probably the most explicit example of campaign interference, where you’re actually telling your campaign … what they can and can’t say.”

“The Democrats are following very closely, whatever is said on TRUTH social, whatever is posted on the campaign website, and then it’s immediately getting filtered up to Alvin Bragg who has very easy channels of communication, which are pretty firmly established between the Democrats and in his office,” the source familiar said.

The restrictions are unlike any placed on a presidential campaign before in American history and put Trump on the back foot, Mike Davis, founder and president of the Article III Project, told the Daily Caller.

“This unconstitutional and un-American gag order is yet another weapon used by Biden and his henchmen to silence his chief political rival, President Trump. Michael Cohen and others can go make money trashing Trump, yet he can’t respond due to this illegal gag order,” Davis said. “So as a result, all of Trump’s opposition can run roughshod over him without worrying about what Trump will say to counter their arguments. This gag order sets a dangerous precedent moving forward.”

The source familiar echoed that sentiment, stating the order “greatly prohibits” the ability of the campaign to fight back.

“The campaign can’t go out there and defend him from those attacks. The campaign can talk about the case, sure, but they can’t respond to the direct attacks against him, which is totally outrageous,” they said. “So it does not only violate the president’s First Amendment rights, but it’s a direct assault on the campaign and their ability to fight this trial in the middle of the election.”

The source familiar added that the gag order should embolden Trump’s supporters and allies who are not tied to the campaign to stand up for him, since Trump and his campaign legally cannot.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump walks into the court following a break in his criminal trial at the New York State Supreme Court, in New York, U.S. May 2, 2024. Doug Mills/Pool via REUTERS

Garrett Ventry, a Republican strategist, said Democrats cannot beat Trump at the polls so they are now interfering with the election instead. He also mentioned that Merchan donated to Biden, and that Bragg campaigned on putting Trump in jail.

“Judge Merchan’s gag order against President Trump is wildly unconstitutional and it is the peak of election interference. The entire campaign they’re running against President Trump has been lawfare. They can’t beat him at the polls,” Ventry said. “Joe Biden’s numbers are tanking and we’re even seeing collusion, with the former number three at Joe Biden’s DOJ being one of the prosecutors on this case in the Manhattan DA’s office.”

“Think about this, too. Alvin Bragg ran his entire entire campaign on putting Donald Trump in jail even before these charges ever happened. So you have an unfair prosecutor, you have a Democrat judge who donated to Joe Biden, you have a pretty much Democrat jury pool all going after President Trump. People who hate him,” he continued. “He can’t expect a fair trial now and now he’s not even allowed to and his campaign is not even allowed to speak back and fight out against the Democrat law fair.” (RELATED: Prosecutor Paints Trump Manhattan Case As ‘Election Conspiracy’ During Opening Statement)

The source familiar with the situation explained that a key part of the gag order is on the “potential participation” of witnesses, because it’s unclear to the campaign if and when certain witnesses will be called.

Another source told the Caller that it’s “a pretty firm bet” that Cohen is going to be called as a witness, saying “he’s the only ‘eyewitness’ to this entire case. Without him, they don’t have a case.” (RELATED: Trump Details Endless Legal Fights In Primetime Mar-A-Lago Address After Indictment)

Former U.S. President Donald Trump sits inside Manhattan Criminal Court room, in NYC, U.S. May 2, 2024. Mark Peterson/Pool via REUTERS

“Judge Merchan’s unconstitutional gag order is an egregious violation of President Trump’s First Amendment rights and a direct assault on our campaign in the middle of the election. Unfortunately for Joe Biden and his corrupt Democrat cronies, their unprecedented weaponization of our government is backfiring, Americans see the truth about this sham show trial, and President Trump will ultimately win on November 5th,” Karoline Leavitt, National Press Secretary for the Trump campaign, told the Caller in regards to the gag order. (RELATED: Jordan To Investigate Links Between Biden DOJ, Alvin Bragg’s Lead Prosecutor)

Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump gestures as he arrives to Trump tower during the day of his trial over charges that he falsified business records to conceal money paid to silence porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016, in New York City, U.S. , April 19, 2024. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

Ventry also said that Republicans in Congress “need to step up” and “use every tool and measure they have” to defend Trump and hold these “rogue judges and prosecutors accountable for blatant election interference and an unconstitutional gag order.”

House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan sent a letter Tuesday to Attorney General Merrick Garland, regarding Colangelo, requesting documents and communications from Colangelo’s tenure at the Biden DOJ.

The Caller obtained a copy of the letter before it was sent. Jordan demanded a number of personnel files related to Colangelo’s hiring, employment and termination at the DOJ, a number of documents and communications from January 2021 to December 2022, and documents and communications related to Trump or his organization.