Donald Trump has spent a lifetime thumbing his nose at the law. He’s previously gotten away with it because no one ever bothered to criminally charge him with anything prior to his time in office, and he wasn’t able to be prosecuted while he was in office. But now that he’s been booted from office, he’s become powerless. He’s unable to stop the criminal charges that are being brought against him. He’s also unable to stop the civil cases that are being brought against him for his criminal acts. And now that he’s on the wrong end of things, he’s unable to manipulate the process in his favor.
To that end, the judge in the Manhattan (Alvin Bragg) criminal case against Donald Trump has now issued a protective order barring Trump from speaking or posting about any of the evidence in the case. If Trump decides to violate this order, so be it. In such case the judge will crack down with incrementally severe penalties until Trump is feeling enough pain that he stops violating the order. Those penalties can ultimately include tossing him in a cell – and that will happen if Trump pushes the judge far enough.
That said, Trump seems more likely to back down, at least for now. For instance, after Trump made disparaging social media posts about E. Jean Carroll just before the start of the civil rape trial, the judge ordered Trump to cease doing so, under threat of eventual obstruction charges. Trump did indeed back down, and hasn’t posted about Carroll since. Of course in that instance Trump only had to bite his tongue for a couple weeks until the trial is over. In the Manhattan criminal case, Trump will have to try to bite his tongue all the way until that trial begins and ends. We’ll see if he makes it.
There’s also more where this is coming from. Under New York state law, it’s comparatively difficult for a judge to order an outright gag order, which would prevent Trump from even so much as mentioning the case. But once Trump is criminally indicted by DOJ special counsel Jack Smith, federal law will make it much easier for the judge in that case to gag Trump if needed.
The bottom line is that Donald Trump is going to keep getting hit with more and more of these kinds of restrictions, and they’ll become incrementally tighter if he tries violating them. As a defendant in the criminal justice system, there is no way Trump can use such antics to his advantage. He can only use such antics to his detriment. This is not an arena in which Trump has ever previously had to operate. We’ll see if he can adapt and control himself, or if he insists on starting the process of finishing himself off before his criminal trials even arrive.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report