Everything you’re hearing right now about “Trump violating his gag order” is wrong

Trump is on trial! If each of you reading this can kick in $10 or $25, it'll help keep Palmer Report firing on all cylinders at this crucial time in our nation's history: Donate now
-----
Palmer Report readers: sign up for our free mailing list here


Over the weekend, the internet has become obsessed with the idea that Donald Trump has violated his gag order in his upcoming criminal trial. In fact there are two popular narratives about how Trump has supposedly violated the gag order and “gotten away with it.” But one of those narratives is mostly wrong, and the other is completely wrong. Here are the facts.

Judge Merchan issued a gag order blocking Trump from attacking the court officers (and their families) who will be involved in his New York criminal trial. But the judge didn’t specifically list himself as one of the court officers. A judge doesn’t typically gag a defendant from being able to rant and rave about the judge. So the most straightforward interpretation of the gag order is that Trump is not violating it by attacking the judge’s daughter.

This doesn’t feel right, so Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg has filed a motion asking Judge Merchan to clarify whether the daughter is covered in this gag order. The judge will surely respond to this on Monday. If the judge decides to amend the gag order to include his daughter, and then Trump continues attacking the daughter, then he’ll be in violation of the gag order. But as of right now he isn’t.

Separate from all of this, Trump shared a social media post this week which depicted President Biden being kidnapped in the back of a pickup truck. This post is absolutely not a violation of the gag order. Biden is not a court officer in this trial, so the gag order has nothing to do with Biden.

There are other questions about whether Trump’s post about Biden could be seen as an incitement to violence under the law, but such charges would never stick. At most this kind of thing would prompt a visit from the Secret Service, but nothing beyond that. So Trump is in fact getting the same legal consequences as anyone else who would have posted such an image of Biden, which is nothing.

There are also questions about whether Trump’s post about Biden is a violation of his bail. But bail violations are at the discretion of the judge (subject to appeal). It’s hard to imagine the judges in any of Trump’s four criminal cases giving him pretrial detention over his one social media post about Biden. Nor would any other criminal defendant likely get his or her bail revoked over such a thing.

The bottom line is that Trump has not violated the gag order in his New York criminal trial, and Trump is not being treated any differently than any other criminal defendant. There are loud voices on TV and Twitter who are doing anything they can to convince you that Trump is violating the gag order and getting away with it, because that’s the kind of outrage that’ll ensure ratings and retweets. The thing is, it’s just not the truth.

The factual truth, which we’ve seen on display in one Trump civil trial after another, is that he typically cowers in the face of gag orders. He makes a point of not directly violating them, for fear of getting locked up. Then he tries to distract from his cowering by doing abhorrent things that are not covered by the gag order. Then TV and Twitter tells us that he’s violated the gag order when he hasn’t. Then when the judge doesn’t crack down on Trump’s imaginary gag order violation, TV and Twitter tells us that he’s “getting away with it all.”

It’s the same old nonsense, over and over again. The only thing more repetitive and tiring than Donald Trump himself is the cadre of people in the political analyst industry who keep trying to convince us that an invincible Trump is “getting away” with things that he isn’t.

Trump is on trial! If each of you reading this can kick in $10 or $25, it'll help keep Palmer Report firing on all cylinders at this crucial time in our nation's history: Donate now
-----
Palmer Report readers: sign up for our free mailing list here