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Trump denied second mistrial request, gag order change in hush money case

Former President Trump’s legal team was denied two requests Thursday in his ongoing hush money criminal trial.

The big picture: Judge Juan Merchan rejected a mistrial motion two days after denying a similar request, and he declined to narrow a gag order to allow Trump to speak publicly about adult film actress and star witness Stormy Daniels following her testimony.

State of play: Daniels, whose allegations about an alleged sexual encounter with the former president are at the heart of the criminal trial, defended herself Thursday as Trump’s attorneys often appeared to try to undermine her credibility by accusing her of story discrepancies.

  • Trump’s attorney Todd Blanche requested a mistrial, arguing some of her testimony, including details about an alleged sexual encounter, are unrelated to charges in the case and that her testimony was detrimental.
  • Merchan rejected the defense’s claim that Daniels’ testimony differed from her previous accounts.
  • The judge brought up specific issues with the defense’s arguments, including that instead of denying the falsification of business records, they’re denying the alleged sexual encounter Daniels spoke about, per the New York Times.
  • “That in my mind allows the people to do what they can to rehabilitate her and to corroborate her story. Your motion for a mistrial is denied,” Merchan said.

Zoom out: Trump’s attorneys also requested Thursday that the gag order in the case be narrowed so he could talk about Daniels publicly now that her testimony is complete.

  • “He needs an opportunity to respond to the American people,” Blanche said. “She is no longer a witness.”
  • The judge denied the motion, saying, “The reason why the gag order is in place to begin with is precisely because of the nature of these attacks — the vitriol.”

The other side: “This judge, what he did, and what his ruling was, is a disgrace,” Trump said outside the court Thursday.

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