The significant and unique challenge

King Lear without the peripeteia.

It took Donald Trump less than 24 hours to test the boundaries of Judge Juan Merchan’s gag order in his New York criminal trial.

In two posts on his Truth Social account, the former president attacked Merchan for issuing the gag order – and he went after the judge’s daughter for her liberal political work, exploiting the ambiguous language in the order that didn’t explicitly forbid discussion of Merchan’s family.

On Monday, Merchan pushed back, expanding the gag order to cover his family – though the judge remains fair game for Trump – and attempting to limit Trump’s vitriol two weeks before the trial is set to begin.

Merchan’s need to issue a second gag order highlights the significant and unique challenge that Trump poses for the judge overseeing the unprecedented first criminal trial in US history of a former president and current presidential candidate.

It’s unprecedented because Trump is an unprecedentedly awful human being. Your average self-dealing sleaze would go to quite a lot of trouble to avoid all this courtroom stuff and the disgrace that goes with it, but not Trump. He loves being the worst human on the planet, and he keeps breaking new ground in order to hang onto the title.

In the past six months, Trump has sat in a half-dozen different courtrooms before judges overseeing his four criminal and two of his civil cases, along with a federal appellate court. A CNN review of Trump’s appearances shows how the former president has taken repeated steps both inside and outside the courtroom to test the limits of judges – and the judicial system – trying to rein him in.

Who does that? A childish vain bully, that’s who.

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