Judge warns Michael Cohen to stop talking about Trump hush money case

The warning comes after ABC News reported Cohen discussed the case on TikTok.

May 10, 2024, 4:11 PM

Judge Juan Merchan on Friday issued a warning to Michael Cohen ahead of his planned testimony next week in former President Trump's criminal hush money trial, telling prosecutors to ask him to stop talking about the case after Trump's team brought up his continued out-of-court statements following ABC News' exclusive reporting.

"I would direct the people to communicate to Mr. Cohen that the judge is asking him to refrain from making any more statements about this case," Merchan said. "That comes from the bench and you are communicating that on behalf of the bench."

It came after defense attorney Todd Blanche brought up recent statements by Michael Cohen, including his going on TikTok this week wearing a shirt with a photo of Trump behind bars.

PHOTO: Michael Cohen speaks about hush money case on TikTok
Michael Cohen speaks about hush money case on TikTok
Michael Cohen/TikTok

"It's becoming a problem every single day that President Trump is not allowed to respond to this witness," Blanche urged. "He has stated on social media that he is going to stop talking and he doesn't."

The government said they had already "repeatedly" asked Cohen and others not to post, but claimed they had no control over the witnesses.

Trump is on trial for allegedly falsifying business records to hide the reimbursement of a hush money payment that Cohen, who at the time was Trump's attorney, made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels in order to boost Trump's electoral prospects in the 2016 presidential election. The former president has denied all wrongdoing.

On Wednesday night, days before he is slated to take the stand, Cohen went live on TikTok wearing a shirt that depicted Donald Trump wearing an orange jumpsuit, in handcuffs, and behind bars, according to video of the stream reviewed by ABC News. The shirt is merchandise for Cohen's show called the "Mea Culpa Podcast," and are sold for $32, which he has been selling since 2022.

Cohen previously said he would "cease posting anything" about Trump during the trail, but has since appeared multiple times on TikTok discussing the former president and the trial, according to hours of Cohen's streams reviewed by ABC News.

Judge Merchan's warning on Friday comes after ABC News first reported last week that Cohen had been discussing the case and blasting Trump in nightly livestreams on TikTok during the trial.

During the gag order hearing last week, both sides appeared to directly reference ABC News' reporting on Cohen's out of court statements and the financial benefit he has been earning while appearing on TikTok during the trial-- something legal experts have called "disastrous."

"As has been reported, because it's true, Mr. Cohen has started going on TikTok nightly and literally making money -- apparently you can make money -- with people doing things while they're watching you on TikTok," Trump's attorney Todd Blanche told the judge.

Blanche then proceeded to read out the statement Cohen gave to ABC News in response to the story, which Merchan firmly nodded to when he heard.

Trump's team has repeatedly argued Trump has merely been responding to political attacks with his statements about Michael Cohen and others. The DA's office also mentioned Michael Cohen's TikTok videos.

"This is not a man that needs protection from the gag order," Blanche stated.