Because Trump’s Truth Social account is a legal mine for him

Facebook Trump (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Facebook Trump (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Donald Trump has a problem.

He’s currently facing no less than three prosecutions in civil and criminal courtrooms in his former home state of New York, and he can’t seem to keep his mouth shut about any of them.

In multiple cases, the twice-accused former president’s conduct has drawn the attention of judges overseeing cases against him, most recently in a federal courtroom in New York City, where District Judge Lewis Kaplan on Wednesday issued a stern warning to Trump’s attorney, Joe Tacopina.

The veteran jurist told Tacopina, who represents Trump in a civil rape lawsuit brought by writer E Jean Carroll, that the former CEO may have opened up to “a new source of potential liability” with inflammatory posts about the case on his Truth Social platform.

Specifically, Trump called the case a “scam” and referred to alleged DNA evidence that will not be part of the trial.

Judge Kaplan previously warned both Trump’s and Carroll’s attorneys — and witnesses who may testify in the rape and defamation suit — against making statements that could incite violence or civil unrest.

Given the former president’s history of inciting unrest, it is unlikely that the warning was aimed at the former Elle advice columnist.

But Trump risked incurring the ire of another New York judge, Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan.

Merchan is the judge who oversaw the sentencing of Trump’s longtime CFO Allen Weisselberg in a tax fraud criminal trial last year. He is also the judge who will preside over the former president’s criminal trial on more than 30 counts of forging corporate records.

At the former president’s impeachment earlier this month, Merchan issued a similar warning to the former president, who remained largely silent as the charges against him were read out.

“Please refrain from making statements that could incite violence or civil unrest,” he said.

While the former president is a free man and, in theory, will remain free unless and until convicted of a crime by a jury of his peers, the warnings of those two judges pose the most pressing and immediate threat to his freedom.

That’s because Trump is notoriously unable to refrain from carrying out vicious attacks against anyone he considers an enemy. It’s partly why he ended up facing a defamation lawsuit from Carroll, who accused him of raping her in a Bergdorf-Goodman dressing room in the mid-1990s.

He also attacked multiple judges, including Merchan, as “Trump-hating” jurists and accused them of bias against him without evidence. Likewise, he has shown no qualms about attacking prosecutors investigating him. The one who has obtained one indictment against him so far, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, has received numerous death threats.

The former president, who is currently campaigning for voters to return him to the White House in next year’s election, has suggested that any attempt to restrict his speech could violate the US constitution.

But a judge who oversees a criminal or civil trial has broad powers to ensure that the proceedings before him remain fair. That’s why Judge Kaplan used seldom-used authority to keep the jury anonymous in Carroll’s case to all but court personnel, telling them that no one would ever know their names, “God willing.”

The purpose of that order — and its warning to Trump’s counsel — is to prevent Trump, or anyone else, from tainting the jury with threats or intimidation, or from influencing them with public statements about the case.

But Trump, who is notoriously averse to being told what to do, is unlikely to heed the judge’s admonition. And in the future, that warning could turn into a formal silence order if it’s determined he’s disrespecting the court’s wishes.

Violating a court order can result in significant consequences, up to and including prison time.

And if a judge hearing a case against him decides he violated a gag order, that judge could – in theory – lock Trump away.

That would be a drastic fix, but given Trump’s penchant for getting into trouble, there remains a distinct possibility that the very thing that could end the former president’s freedom is his own big mouth.

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