Judge Juan Merchan, the judge overseeing Donald Trump’s criminal hush money trial, expanded a gag order to include family members of court officials and the Manhattan district attorney.

After the former president issued comments attacking Merchan’s daughter, the judge filed a warning that Trump’s rhetoric threatens to instill fear in those who may be involved in proceedings for family members.

“The average observer, must now, after hearing the 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,” Merchan wrote. “Such concerns will undoubtedly interfere with the fair administration of justice and constitute a direct attack on the Rule of Law itself.”

“It is no longer just a mere possibility or reasonable likelihood that there exists a threat to the integrity of the judicial proceedings,” he continued. “The threat is very real. Admonitions are not enough, nor is reliance on self-restraint.”

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Following the issue of the initial gag order to stop Trump from making statements about witnesses, prosecutors, court staff or their family members, the former president took to Truth Social to comment on Merchan’s integrity.

Trump claimed that Merchan was “compromised,” identifying his daughter, who works for a political consulting firm, by name. Underscoring his argument with the First Amendment, Trump criticized the gag order and deemed Merchan “corrupt,” comparing the proceedings against him to “election interference.”

Trump’s lawyers opposed an expansion of the original gag order.

“The Court should reject the People’s invitations to expand the gag order, which is already an unlawful prior restraint that improperly restricts campaign advocacy by the presumptive Republican nominee and leading candidate in the 2024 presidential election,” Trump’s attorney wrote in an opposition filing.

Trump’s legal team asked Merchan to allow them to file a recusal motion to remove the judge from the case, though Merchan denied a similar motion from the former president last year.

The following day, Trump shared a video critical of Merchan’s daughter on Truth Social – now critics say he has already violated the expanded gag order.

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