‘Losing patience’: N.Y. judge reportedly at end of his rope over Trump witness tampering

by Jessica
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Former President Donald Trump is increasingly enraging Judge Juan Merchan with his antics that appear to be calculated to intimidate witnesses and jurors, Aaron Blake wrote for The Washington Post.

The New York trial, where Trump is accused of business fraud for concealing an alleged hush payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels in a purported scheme to undermine the 2016 presidential election, has already seen Merchan fine the former president for contempt of court — and threaten him with jail.

“It’s not just that he’s violated his gag order 10 times. New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan has also cited three instances of what he suggests could be witness or juror intimidation by Trump,” wrote Blake.

“Some experts say Trump’s actions are ambiguous enough that Merchan might be reluctant to sanction him. But the judge appears to be broadly losing patience with Trump’s antics.”

One of the clearest cases of this came during yesterday’s testimony from Daniels herself, where Merchan ordered defense attorney Todd Blanche to control his client as Trump started “cursing audibly.”

New York law defines third-degree witness intimidation — a felony — as when someone ‘wrongfully compels or attempts to compel’ someone to refrain from communicating pertinent information ‘by means of instilling in him a fear that the actor will cause physical injury to such other person or another person,'” wrote Blake.

The challenge is that Trump has a tendency to blur the line. His outbursts during Daniels’ testimony, and his agitation around the jurors, could be interpreted as him simply disagreeing with what is going on — but they could also be attempts to intimidate.

“When it comes to gesturing or cursing in response to testimony, it does not seem to me that intimidation is the goal, although judges may decide that it is the effect,” said Rajiv Sethi, an expert from Barnard College who studies witness intimidation.

“I suspect that there is a lot of variation across judges in how they deal with such situations, with most starting with warnings before moving on to sanctions.”

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