Judge in Trump's 'hush money' trial engages in blatant dissimulation

My assessment of the probability of Donald Trump receiving a fair trial on the highly questionable charges (falsifying business records) brought against him by Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg just plummeted to subterranean levels.  The judge in the case just metaphorically peed on Trump’s leg and told him it was raining, to employ a venerable and colorful American expression. He issued a gag order and specified that he was not issuing a gag order and violated Trump’s First Amendment rights while claiming he didn’t violate his First Amendment rights. The technical name, albeit a less flamboyant one than the metaphor of micturition, is dissimulation.

 Kyle Schnitzer and Emily Crane of the New York Post report:

Former President Donald Trump has been banned from talking — or posting — about certain evidence uncovered in the Manhattan District Attorney’s “hush money” criminal case.

Justice Juan Merchan handed down the ruling Thursday during a Manhattan Supreme Court hearing after prosecutors sought a protective order to restrict Trump, 76, from publicly revealing any evidence handed over to his legal team as the case unfolds.

The judge — who insisted he was not imposing a “gag order” — said Trump was prohibited from talking about evidence specifically obtained by the DA’s Office and turned over to the defense to prepare for trial, including people’s names or personal information.

“I am not going to do anything … to infringe on his First Amendment rights,” the judge said.

If Trump can’t comment, how is that not a gag order? As far as the First Amendment goes:

But Trump’s lawyers objected to the order, arguing the 45th president has a First Amendment right to tell his side of the story — especially given his bid for the Republican nomination in the 2024 presidential election.

“Obviously, Mr Trump is different. It would be foolish to say he is not… He is different,” Merchan said Thursday.

How is Trump “different” when comes to First Amendment rights? Is the judge saying that he has fewer rights than any other American?

Incidentally, Justice Merchan comes by that elevated honorific title because he is an acting justice of the Supreme Court, New York County. That court, however, is misnamed, since it is a trial level court, far from the highest court of the state judiciary. And he was appointed to his acting “justice” role not by the governor, but by Chief Administrative Judge Ann Pfau of the county level court.(New York County is Manhattan).

YouTube screengrab (cropped)

I don’t pretend to be an expert on the law, but Justice Merchan has destroyed my confidence in his ability to conduct a fair trial.

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