Former U.S. president Donald Trump appears in court in New York City

Judge expands Trump’s gag order after the former president’s social media posts about judge’s daughter

NEW YORK (AP) — The judge in Donald Trump’s hush-money criminal case expanded the former president’s gag order Monday after the former president assailed the judge’s daughter and made a false claim about her on social media last week.

Judge Juan M. Merchan said his original gag order issued last Tuesday did not include members of his family, but Trump’s subsequent actions warranted including them. Merchan’s daughter, Loren Merchan, is a Democratic political consultant.

Prosecutors had urged Merchan to clarify or expand his gag order after Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform that Loren Merchan “makes money by working to ‘Get Trump,’” and wrongly accused her of posting a social media photo showing him behind bars.

The trial, which involves allegations Trump falsified payment records in a scheme to cover up negative stories during his 2016 presidential campaign, is scheduled to begin April 15. Trump denies wrongdoing and has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records.

Trump’s lawyers had fought the gag order and its expansion, arguing that Trump was engaging in protected political campaign speech.