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Trump aims his ire at spouses, children of judges at heart of legal troubles

In the throes of former President Trump’s civil fraud trial last fall, he made a plea to the judge overseeing the case: “Leave my children alone.”  

Two of Trump’s sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, were slated to take the stand just hours later to profess their innocence and defend the family business. His daughter, Ivanka Trump, would testify shortly after.

But the former president himself has not held back from aiming his ire at the families of his perceived foes across numerous legal battles, targeting the spouses and children of judges overseeing his cases.

Trump’s latest mark is the daughter of Judge Juan Merchan, the New York state judge overseeing the former president’s criminal trial linked to hush money payments made to a porn actress to cover up an alleged affair ahead of the 2016 election. Trump faces 34 counts and has pleaded not guilty. 

Merchan’s daughter, Loren Merchan, served as an executive at Authentic Campaigns, the progressive political consulting firm that has worked for prominent Democrats including President Biden, Vice President Harris and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y).

An account on X, formerly Twitter, that at first appeared to belong to the judge’s daughter at one point used a photo illustration of an imprisoned Trump as its profile picture, according to The Associated Press. The profile, which was previously linked to by her consulting firm, has since been made private and the avatar has been changed.

“So, let me get this straight,” Trump wrote in a Truth Social post Wednesday. “The Judge’s daughter is allowed to post pictures of her ‘dream’ of putting me in jail, the Manhattan D.A. is able to say whatever lies about me he wants, the Judge can violate our Laws and Constitution at every turn, but I am not allowed to talk about the attacks against me, and the Lunatics trying to destroy my life, and prevent me from winning the 2024 Presidential Election, which I am dominating? 

“Maybe the Judge is such a hater because his daughter makes money by working to ‘Get Trump,’ and when he rules against me over and over again, he is making her company, and her, richer and richer,” he further speculated. “How can this be allowed?” 

A court spokesperson later said the account Trump was referring to was fake and is no longer connected to Merchan’s daughter. The Hill attempted to reach Loren Merchan for this story. 

In an order Tuesday, Merchan precluded Trump from making public statements about witnesses, prosecutors, court staff and their family members “if those statements are made with the intent to materially interfere with” the case.

The gag order does not explicitly bar Trump from attacking Merchan and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D) — or their families. However, Merchan did signal that Trump’s prior attacks on his daughter played a role in his decision to issue the gag.

Merchan wrote that, while he initially opted to admonish Trump, he now must issue an order restricting his speech due to the “nature and impact” of statements made against him, a “family member thereof” and two prosecutors.

“Given that the eve of this trial is upon us, it is without question that the imminency of the risk of harm is now paramount,” Merchan wrote.

It’s not the first time Merchan’s daughter has been caught in the crossfire of Trump’s fury toward the judge.

Trump’s lawyers demanded Merchan recuse himself from the case last summer, arguing the judge could not be impartial in part due to his daughter’s work experience.  

Merchan rejected their request, citing guidance he received from the state’s judicial ethics advisory committee that found there is nothing to “suggest that the outcome of the case could have any effect on the judge’s relative, the relative’s business or any of their interests.” 

During Trump’s fraud trial, which ended earlier this year with a $464 million judgment against the former president and his business, the trial judge’s wife and son also became the object of Trump’s rage.

On Truth Social, Trump reposted images shared by a “Dawn Marie” on X depicting Trump in an orange jumpsuit and deriding him with expletives.  

Judge Arthur Engoron’s wife, Dawn Engoron, denied any association with the account to The Hill at the time and said she has “never posted any anti Trump messages.” But Trump blasted her online as “Trump Hating.” 

Trump also reposted a claim that Engoron’s son was reserved a seat in the fraud trial courtroom, speculating he may have been “financially benefiting” from the proceeding. However, the man depicted was a New York Post reporter — not Engoron’s son. 

A gag order was also imposed in the fraud case, but it did not prevent Trump from lobbing attacks at the judge or his family. 

It’s not unusual for Trump to turn his qualms against any perceived foes personal. 

When Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in 2022 that the GOP could face a tight race to flip the chamber due to “candidate quality,” Trump responded by knocking his wife — Trump’s former Transportation secretary, Elaine Chao — as “crazy” and accusing her of working to “get rich on China.”  

In the lead-up to the 2016 election, Trump accused then-candidate Jeb Bush of adopting a more moderate immigration policy because his wife is Mexican. He later refused to apologize for the comment at a 2016 debate, instead doubling down on the attack.  

Perhaps most famously, Trump reposted an image negatively comparing Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) wife to Trump’s wife, Melania, during a tiff with the senator over a 2016 campaign ad.  

“The images are worth a thousand words,” the text overlaid on the images read.