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Trump barred from making evidence public in Stormy Daniels hush money case

Former President Donald Trump boards his airplane after speaking at a campaign event in Manchester, New Hampshire, April 27, 2023.

Jabin Botsford | The Washington Post | Getty Images

A judge Monday barred former President Donald Trump from making public evidence and other material related to a pending criminal case against him in New York, where he is charged with falsifying business records related to a 2016 hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.

Judge Juan Merchan also barred Trump from viewing evidence in the case other than in the presence of his lawyers. The ex-president is not allowed to copy the material.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office sought the protective order due to concerns Trump would “inappropriately” use the material or post the information on social media or elsewhere.

A prosecutor at a hearing last week in Manhattan Supreme Court called that risk “substantial.”

Trump’s lawyers opposed that request, which relates to so-called discovery material, the documents, correspondence and other items exchanged between opposing parties in a legal case before trial.

Trump, who is the leading contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, was arraigned in court last month in the case. He has pleaded not guilty.

His former lawyer, Michael Cohen, shortly before the 2016 presidential election paid Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, $130,000 to keep her quiet about an alleged sexual tryst with Trump years earlier.

Trump denies having sex with Daniels, but reimbursed Cohen for the payoff, which was claimed to be for legal expenses in business records.

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In the prosecution’s motion for a protective order, assistant DA Catherine McCaw wrote, “Donald J. Trump has a longstanding and perhaps singular history of attacking witnesses, investigators, prosecutors, trial jurors, grand jurors, judges, and others involved in legal proceedings against him, putting those individuals and their families at considerable safety risk.”

Merchan, in his order Monday, wrote all material provided by the DA’s office to Trump’s lawyers “shall be used solely for the purposes of preparing a defense in this matter.”

“Any person who receives the Covered Materials shall not copy, disseminate, or disclose the Covered Materials, in any form or by any means, to any third party,” which includes posting the material on social media sites, Merchan wrote.

The judge also said the names and identifying information of DA employees in the case, other than sworn members of law enforcement, assistant DAs and expert witnesses, would be delayed until the start of jury selection.

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