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Trump says it would be a ‘great honor’ to be jailed for violating gag order

Former president Donald Trump said Saturday that it would be a “great honor” to be jailed for violating a gag order, marking an escalation in attacks he’s made against New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan and other court officials in a case about to go to trial.

On Monday, Merchan, the judge overseeing Trump’s hush money trial set to begin on April 15, expanded his gag order against Trump to include both the judge’s family as well as Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s family. That move came after Trump personally attacked Merchan’s daughter, calling her a “Rabid Trump Hater” and suggesting that the judge was “compromised” because of her work for a Democratic-aligned digital marketing company.

Writing on the Truth Social platform on Saturday, Trump dared Merchan to throw him in jail. He also compared himself again to Nelson Mandela, a political prisoner who became the first president of a post-apartheid South Africa.

“If this Partisan Hack wants to put me in the ‘clink’ for speaking the open and obvious TRUTH, I will gladly become a Modern Day Nelson Mandela — It will be my GREAT HONOR,” Trump wrote. “We have to Save our Country from these Political Operatives masquerading as Prosecutors and Judges, and I am willing to sacrifice my Freedom for that worthy cause.”

Trump has continued to test the boundaries of the gag order, persistently sharing links to stories on Truth Social that echo his critiques. In a Truth Social post written after the gag order was expanded, Trump also said that Merchan “should be recused, and the case should be thrown out,” adding that “there has virtually never been a more conflicted judge than this one.”

A recent Washington Post analysis of Trump’s social media posts since the start of his campaign in late 2022 shows that he had directly attacked judges or their families by name more than 130 times. Merchan’s gag order doesn’t restrict Trump from attacking the judge or the district attorney directly.

It’s not clear if the judge will sanction Trump for any of his latest postings. Merchan can fine or jail Trump for violating the gag order. He has also said another consequence could be withholding jurors’ names from Trump’s lawyers.

Orders restricting the public statements by criminal defendants are common in judicial proceedings. Trump has been fined before for violating another judge’s gag order in the civil business-fraud lawsuit in New York that resulted in a $350 million penalty plus interest.

Trump’s campaign on Saturday called Merchan’s gag order “unconstitutional and un-American” in defending the actions. “President Trump has not violated this wrongful edict issued by a partisan operative and will continue to speak truth to power,” Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said in a statement.

The trial Merchan is set to oversee this month stems from charges against Trump that allege he faked business records in connection with hush money payments to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels during the 2016 election.

Trump, the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee, faces a total of 88 charges across four criminal cases. They include 44 federal charges and 44 state charges, all of them felonies. Trump has denied wrongdoing in each case.

This is not the first time Trump has compared himself to Mandela as a way to portray himself as a victim of political persecution. He told a crowd of supporters in October 2023, “I don’t mind being Nelson Mandela, because I’m doing it for a reason.”

The Biden campaign quickly criticized Trump for his comparison to Mandela, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

“Imagine being so self-centered that you compare yourself to Jesus Christ and Nelson Mandela all within the span of little more than a week: that’s Donald Trump for you,” the Biden campaign’s director of Black media, Jasmine Harris, said in a statement.

Harris appeared to be referencing another Truth Social post recently made by Trump, where he seemingly compared himself to Jesus days before Easter-related observances while attending a pretrial hearing for his hush money case.

Trump wrote that someone sent him a text saying, “It’s ironic that Christ walked through His greatest persecution the very week they are trying to steal your property from you,” along with a Bible verse.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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