Former Judge Lays Out ‘Only Way’ to Break Donald Trump Predicament

Former Judge J. Michael Luttig on Friday put forward his view on what might be the “only way” to break Donald Trump’s predicament as the former president continues to violate a gag order recently imposed on him in his Manhattan criminal case.

In the first of the four criminal indictments leveled against him last year, Trump is facing 34 charges related to allegations that he falsified business records to conceal “hush money” payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels in exchange for her not speaking before the 2016 presidential election about an affair the two allegedly had in 2006.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to the charges and denies that an affair took place. The grand jury indictment came as the result of an investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. Despite that case being viewed by many experts as the least consequential and damning of Trump’s criminal cases, it now appears that it will be the first one to go to trial, with a start currently set for Monday, April 15.

On Tuesday, Judge Juan Merchan, who is presiding over the case, imposed a gag order against Trump after he continued to make disparaging public comments about himself and his daughter, Loren Merchan. Under the order, the former president is barred from making public statements about prosecutors, witnesses, or jurors in the case, or their families. Despite this, in the days after the order was imposed, Trump continued to publicly attack Merchan’s daughter for her work in Democratic political circles and call for the judge to be recused from the case.

Former President Donald Trump appears in Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City on March 25. Former Judge J. Michael Luttig recently weighed in at what it will take to contend with the legal predicament…

Mary Altafeer/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

During a Friday appearance on MSNBC’s Deadline White House, Luttig, a former 4th Circuit judge appointed by former President George H.W. Bush, was pressed by host Nicolle Wallace about the predicament presented by the former president continuing to defy the gag order, and suggested that the “only way” to solve the problem would be through “the rule of law.”

“Donald Trump has bludgeoned America into submission to his will over the will of the Constitution and the American people. It’s just that plain and that simple,” Luttig said. “The only way to break that is through the rule of law…until or unless the courts of the United States apply the rule of law to Donald Trump, I don’t see a way out of the predicament that the country finds itself in today.”

Luttig added that, without the legal system being able to contend with a defendant like the former president, the only other way to hold him accountable would be to vote against him in the general election this November. Trump is now the presumptive 2024 GOP nominee for president, setting up a rematch with the presumptive Democratic nominee, President Joe Biden.

Newsweek reached out to Trump’s office via email on Saturday morning for comment.

On X, formerly Twitter, Luttig also posted a thread on Friday about Trump’s recent attacks on Merchan and his daughter, writing, “The Nation is witnessing the determined delegitimization of both its Federal and State judiciaries and the systematic dismantling of its system of justice and Rule of Law by a single man—the former President of the United States.”

Luttig continued: “It is the responsibility of the Supreme Court of the United States in the first instance to protect the federal courts, the federal judges, and all participants in the justice system from the reprehensible spectacle of the former president’s inexcusable, threatening attacks, just as it is the responsibility of the respective State Supreme Courts in the first instance to protect their courts and their state judges from the same.”