Trump trial live updates: Hush money judge holds hearing on former president’s gag order

Trump calls gag order ‘unconstitutional’ in social media post

Trump went to his social media platform this morning to again blast Judge Juan Merchan and allege the trial is an effort to interfere with this year’s presidential election, as has become the former president’s routine.

Trump implied the gag order the judge has imposed on him was just part of the alleged interference effort.

“We cannot let this radical left, corrupt and highly conflicted New York Democrat judge interfere with the presidential election of 2024 — the most important election in the history of our country,” Trump wrote. “The USA is truly a nation in decline! Remove the unconstitutional gag order.”

The judge in the criminal hush money trail of Donald Trump, held the former President in contempt of court, fined him $9,000 and threatened him with jail time for repeated violations of his gag order. Meanwhile, escalating protests at college campuses across the country are adding to an already-tense election year. NBC’s Laura Jarrett and Peter Alexander report for TODAY.

What happened at trial on Tuesday

When court was last in session, on Tuesday, Keith Davidson took the stand and testified about his work as an attorney for Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal as they brokered hush money agreements.

He described how pseudonyms were used to protect the identities of Daniels and Trump and said he “needed to pad the deal” by increasing the hush money sum after the National Enquirer backed out of potentially buying Daniels’ story. Davidson also testified that the “Access Hollywood” tape, which emerged weeks before the 2016 election, sparked fresh interest in Daniels’ story, and that he and Daniels came close to ditching the deal after Cohen missed the deadline to pay.

Earlier on Tuesday, Trump was held in criminal contempt over social media posts that Judge Merchan said violated his gag order. An appeal’s court also denied his request that the trial, which got underway on April 15, be delayed.

What to expect at trial today

Before the jury is called back into the courtroom this morning, the judge plans to hold a hearing on whether Trump has again violated the gag order in the case.

Prosecutors are expected to argue that Judge Juan Merchan should find the Trump in criminal contempt for a second time. They are expected to focus on Trump’s comments to reporters outside of the courtroom that referred to his former attorney Michael Cohen — a key figure and probable witness in the trial — as “a convicted liar.”

When testimony resumes, Keith Davidson, who served as an attorney for Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal when they negotiated their hush money deals, is expected to return to the witness stand. Davidson is expected to provide additional details about the payment and the aftermath of the deal before facing questioning by Trump’s attorneys.