Judge Orders Trump to Appear on Video for Contempt Warning

Prosecutors say former president has a record of harassing, threatening legal opponents
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 11, 2023 6:10 PM CDT
Judge to Lay Out Trial Rules to Trump on Video Link
In this courtroom sketch, Donald Trump's defense attorney Joe Tacopina, far left, presents his closing arguments to the jury with the video deposition of Trump showing, far right, in Manhattan federal court on Monday in New York.   (Elizabeth Williams via AP)

Donald Trump was ordered Thursday to appear by video at a May 23 hearing in his Manhattan criminal case after a judge this week set rules barring him from using evidence in the case to attack witnesses. Judge Juan Manuel Merchan scheduled the hybrid hearing—the former president on a TV screen, his lawyers and prosecutors in court—to go over the restrictions with Trump and to make clear that he risks being held in contempt if he violates them, the AP reports. The case is continuing in state court even as Trump's lawyers seek to have it moved to federal court. US District Judge Alvin Hellerstein, who is considering the transfer request, issued an order this week setting paperwork deadlines and a hearing for late June.

Merchan, still in charge while that drama plays out, agreed to instruct Trump on the rules by video, rather than in person, after a prosecutor reminded him last week that bringing Trump to court would present security and logistical challenges. Merchan issued what's known as a protective order on Monday, days after a hearing where he urged Trump’s lawyers and prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney's office to reach a compromise regarding the Republican's access to and use of evidence turned over by prosecutors prior to trial. That kind of evidence sharing, called discovery, is routine in criminal cases and is intended to help ensure a fair trial.

Prosecutors sought the order soon after Trump's arrest, citing what they say is his history of making "harassing, embarrassing, and threatening statements" about people he's tangled with in legal disputes. Merchan ordered the virtual hearing a day after Trump appeared on a CNN forum and offered up falsehoods, excuses and insults on a variety of topics, including what he deemed the "fake charge" of his criminal case. Trump, found liable in a $5 million civil court verdict Tuesday in the sexual abuse and defamation of writer E. Jean Carroll, argued that “you can't get a fair trial" in New York City. He called Carroll a “whack job," characterized her claims that he assaulted her in the 1990s as “playing hanky-panky in a dressing room" and denied the allegations as a “fake story, made up story." He also criticized the judge in that case as a “horrible Clinton-appointed judge.”

(More Donald Trump stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.