Trump trial: Ex-president posts — then quickly deletes — message about witness schedule, hush money judge

Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump sits in the courtroom, as his criminal trial over charges that he falsified business records to conceal money paid to silence porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016 continues, at Manhattan state court in New York City, U.S., May 6, 2024. 

Brendan Mcdermid | Reuters

This is developing news. Check back for updates throughout the day.

Donald Trump posted — and then quickly deleted — a statement Tuesday raging over the witness schedule and the judge in his criminal hush money trial.

The Truth Social post appeared less than one day after Judge Juan Merchan threatened the former president with jail time, for repeatedly violating the gag order that bars him from speaking about likely witnesses in the trial.

Trump fumed that prosecutors are not telling defense attorneys which witnesses they plan to call until the day before the witness testifies.

“I have just recently been told who the witness is today. This is unprecedented, no time for lawyers to prepare,” Trump wrote in the post.

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass told Merchan on Monday the Manhattan District Attorney’s office is keeping its witness schedule hidden, in order to stop Trump from targeting people right before they take the stand.

But Steinglass noted that while they are keeping the order of witnesses close to the vest, Trump’s attorneys have had the witness list, and the list of exhibits they will present in the case, for months.

Steinglass blamed Trump for forcing the move, pointing out that he “has been violating the order restricting extrajudicial speech, and we did not want to have the witnesses’ names, the next witnesses’ names out there.”

Earlier Monday, Merchan held Trump in contempt of court once again for his 10th violation of the gag order. He fined Trump the maximum $1,000 for the latest violation, adding up to $10,000 in fines for the 10 separate infringements.

But the judge noted that those fines were hardly a deterrent for Trump, a multibillionaire.

“The last thing I want to do is to put you in jail,” Merchan said to Trump. But “I will, if necessary.”

Read more about Trump’s hush money trial

Trump’s since-deleted post from Tuesday morning also slammed Merchan at length, accusing him of political bias.

“No Judge has ever run a trial in such a biased and partisan way,” Trump claimed.

“He is CROOKED & HIGHLY CONFLICTED, even taking away my First Amendment Rights. Now he’s threatening me with JAIL, & THEY HAVE NO CASE – This according to virtually all Legal Scholars & Experts!” Trump wrote.

Trump’s attorneys have failed multiple times to get Merchan to recuse himself for what they claim is a conflict of interest stemming from his daughter’s work for a Democratic political firm.

The gag order bars Trump from speaking about likely witnesses in the case, and from making certain statements about other related figures including lawyers, court staff and their respective family members. Merchan expanded the gag order after Trump targeted the family members of the judge and the D.A.

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