Trump’s next court hearing will be virtual


The judge in Donald Trump’s criminal case is holding a hybrid hearing Tuesday to double-check that the former president is aware of new rules barring him from using evidence to attack witnesses.

Trump will not have to appear in court for the afternoon hearing at a Manhattan courthouse, avoiding the enormous security and logistical challenges that accompanied his trial last month.

Instead, the Republican will be arraigned via video conference, with his face beamed on courtroom television monitors. His lawyers and prosecutors have yet to appear in person.

Judge Juan Manuel Mercan agreed to the additional step of instructing Trump personally on the restrictions after they were included in what is known as a protective order on May 8.

Trump is allowed to speak publicly about the case, but he risks being held in contempt if he uses evidence presented by prosecutors in the pretrial discovery process to target witnesses or others involved in the case.

Between April 4 and 34, Trump pleaded not guilty to falsifying business records related to payments his company made to his former lawyer, Michael Cohen.

Prosecutors say the payments were intended to compensate and compensate Cohen for arranging hush money during a 2016 campaign to cover up allegations of extramarital sex. Trump denies having an extramarital affair and says the prosecution is politically motivated.

Merchan’s protective order prohibits Trump and his third-party attorneys from releasing evidence to the parties or posting it on social media, and requires that certain sensitive materials released by prosecutors be kept only by Trump’s attorneys, not by Trump himself.

Prosecutors sought the warrant shortly after Trump’s arrest, citing what they say is his history of making “disturbing, embarrassing and threatening statements” about people with whom he has been embroiled in legal disputes.

Merchan, noting Trump’s “special” status as a former president and current candidate, made clear that the protective order should not be construed as a gag order and that Trump has the right to publicly defend himself.

Trump’s lawyers are trying to take his criminal case to federal court. It will continue in state court until that is concluded.

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