It still seems surreal to me when I think about it. A former president of the United States, a man elected by millions of Americans (yes, yes, however much by the electoral college and the Russians), having to be admonished for — let’s call it what it is — being an immature spoiled brat.
But that’s what happened on Tuesday when New York State Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan addressed Donald Trump by video link. Marchan warned Trump that if he violates a protective order set down in the case, that is, if he shoots his stupid mouth off about discovery evidence shared with his defence lawyers by the prosecution, he could face sanctions, including contempt of court.
Even so, after the video link hearing, Trump still couldn’t stop himself from shooting off his stupid, stupid mouth. Trump wrote on his failing media platform “Truth” Social, “Just had New York County Supreme Court hearing where I believe my First Amendment Rights, ‘Freedom of Speech,’ have been violated, and they forced upon us a trial date of March 25th, right in the middle of Primary season. Very unfair, but this is exactly what the Radical Left Democrats wanted. It’s called ELECTION INTERFERENCE, and nothing like this has ever happened in our Country before!!!”
First, Trump’s “Freedom of Speech,” as he puts it, was not violated. A protection order is a legal means to, among other things, prevent a defendant or any other interested party from publicly divulging privileged pretrial evidence. It’s done in part to protect potential jurors from undue prejudice. In other words, it’s specifically a measure to keep Trump from jury tampering. Jury tampering is a crime. So stopping Trump from committing a crime is not a violation of “Freedom of Speech.”
In fact, the court was very careful to keep from treading on Trump’s First Amendment right to free speech. It could have issued a gag order, instructing him to keep his stupid mouth entirely shut and say nothing at all in public. So the spoiled brat’s whiny little temper tantrum on “Truth” Social was consequently allowed, however galling it may be.
Second of all, it doesn’t matter when the trial is scheduled for, it’s going to make campaigning inconvenient for Trump. If he doesn’t like it then he shouldn’t have committed the crime — paying hush money to a porn star — in the first place. What Trump was really hoping for was that the trial would start sometime in 2025, when he hopes to be president again and will supposedly be immune from any trial, or when he can theoretically self-pardon his way out of the whole mess, a mess of his very own creation.
A word about New York State Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan. It’s a particularly delicious irony that Merchan is the very thing that people like Ron DeSantis, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump hate. He is an immigrant — from Columbia no less. Marchan is the first member of his family to go to college. He graduated from Baruch College in Manhattan, the place where George Santos lied about going. Santos is also an immigrant, though from Brazil, who people like Ron DeSantis, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump tolerate because he’s a Republican.
So expect a lot of racist chatter among the MAGA crowd about Judge Marchan’s immigrant heritage. He will probably get a lot of death threats directed at himself and his family because that’s who the drooling cretins who idolise Trump are. And Trump will, if not overtly encourage those threats against the judge, covertly encourage them.
In any case, Judge Merchan made clear that the protective order should not be construed as a gag order, and Trump, who has a “special” status, has a right to publicly defend himself. In other words, Trump has been given every courtesy under the law. Yet he is so immature I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if he violates the protective order and gets hauled back into court as a result. Because Donald Trump is an immature spoiled brat. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.