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Judge clarifies gag order doesn’t prevent Trump from testifying

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Hush money case

New York, May 3: The judge overseeing Donald Trump’s hush money trial has clarified that the gag order pertaining to the former president doesn’t prohibit him from testifying on his own behalf.
Judge Juan M. Merchan started the trial day Friday by making that clarification, apparently responding to comments the Republican former president made after court the day before.
“The order restricting extrajudicial statements does not prevent you from testifying in any way,” Merchan said in court in New York, adding that the order does not limit what Trump says on the witness stand.
The judge’s comments came after Trump’s statement to reporters Thursday that he was “not allowed to testify” due to the gag order, an apparent reversal of Trump’s earlier vow that he would “absolutely” take the witness stand.
Criminal defendants have a constitutional right to take the stand and cannot be forced to incriminate themselves.
Merchan directed his comments to Trump and his lawyers, saying it had come to his attention that there may have been a “misunderstanding” regarding the order.
Ahead of walking into court on Friday, Trump clarified his earlier comments, saying that the gag order does not stop him from testifying in the case but instead stops him from “talking about people and responding when they say things about me.” The gag order – which bars Trump from commenting publicly about witnesses, prosecutors, court staff and jurors but does not pertain to Merchan or Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg – also came up as Trump briefly returned to the campaign trail earlier this week in Michigan and Wisconsin.
On Wednesday, Trump called Merchan “crooked” for holding him in contempt of court and imposing a a USD 9,000 fine for making public statements from his Truth Social account about people connected to the criminal case. (AP)

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