Judge Quashes Subpoena Seeking Melania Trump Emails in Blow to Alvin Bragg's Office
Judge Quashes Subpoena Seeking Melania Trump Emails in Blow to Alvin Bragg's Office

By Tom Ozimek

A New York Supreme Court judge has quashed a pair of subpoenas brought by Manhattan district attorneys seeking emails sent by former first lady Melania Trump in a case against former President Donald Trump.

Prosecutors for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office had issued the subpoenas seeking emails from Melania Trump and other documents as part of Mr. Bragg’s case against the former president over alleged falsification of business records.

But those subpoenas were quashed by New York Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan, who said in a ruling (pdf) attached to a July 27 court filing that the subpoenas were far too broad in scope.

The requests for Melania Trump’s emails, and other documents “would yield significantly more responsive records than necessary,” the judge wrote in his ruling, which was issued on July 7 but made public when attached to a July 27 filing that included a letter from prosecutors to Judge Merchan, seeking clarification on an unrelated matter.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg listens at a news conference in New York, on Feb. 7, 2023. (Seth Wenig/AP Photo)

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In that letter, the prosecutors were seeking Judge Merchan’s input on their request for the entire videotaped deposition Mr. Trump gave to attorneys in relation to a separate civil lawsuit brought against the former president by writer E. Jean Carroll, per the letter.

Portions of the videotaped deposition were played at the Carroll trial, but Judge Merchan did not order the entire tape to be handed over to prosecutors. Instead, the judge asked prosecutors to seek clarification from Judge Lewis A. Kaplan whether their subpoena for the entire tape violated a protective order Judge Kaplan had issued in the Carroll v. Trump case.

In relation to the videotape subpoena, Judge Merchan ruled that it’s “not overbroad or otherwise inappropriate,” although he added that he was not able to determine if any portions of the tape violated Judge Kaplan’s protective order.

But that was not the case with a pair of subpoenas that sought all emails between former Trump executive assistant Rhona Graff and Melania Trump, all emails between Ms. Graff and former director of Oval Office operations Keith Schiller, and all travel itineraries prepared for the former president for a period covering 25 months.

Even though prosecutors contended in their subpoenas that their request was “specifically tailored” to capture communications relating to Mr. Trump’s travel and meetings, Judge Merchan disagreed.

“This Court finds that the third request as currently drafted is not narrowly tailored and does not adequately achieve its stated objective of capturing certain communications regarding travel and meetings in order to identify ‘whom the defendant met and where those meetings took place,'” the judge wrote.

“As framed, this request would yield significantly more responsive records than necessary to achieve the stated goal,” he continued. “Therefore, the motion to quash the third request as currently drafted is granted.”

Former President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump prepares to deliver remarks in Las Vegas, on July 8, 2023. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Judge Merchan also partially blocked a subpoena from Mr. Bragg seeking documentation relating to 17 current and former Trump Organization employees, with the judge saying prosecutors failed to adequately explain why seven of the people were relevant to the case.

Neither Mr. Bragg’s office nor the Trump Organization returned requests for comment on the quashing of the subpoenas seeking Melania Trump’s emails.

Falsifying Business Records Case

The Melania Trump emails that prosecutors sought were in relation to a case Mr. Bragg’s office is prosecuting against the former president concerning payments allegedly made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels during the 2016 campaign.

Mr. Trump was arraigned in that case and pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records, while denying any wrongdoing in public statements and on his social media platform.

Prosecutors have alleged that Mr. Trump conspired to undermine the 2016 presidential election by trying to suppress information that could harm his candidacy, and then concealing the true nature of the payments.

The payments were allegedly made to Daniels, former model Karen McDougal, and a doorman, according to Mr. Bragg’s office.

Mr. Trump has repeatedly characterized Mr. Bragg’s investigation as a politically motivated ruse to undermine his 2024 White House run.

Polls show that Mr. Trump is the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination.

Melania Trump in May said that she supports her husband’s 2024 reelection bid, saying it would be a “privilege” to serve as first lady again.

“My husband achieved tremendous success in his first administration, and he can lead us toward greatness and prosperity once again,” Mrs. Trump said in an interview on Fox News Digital.

“He has my support, and we look forward to restoring hope for the future and leading America with love and strength,” the former first lady added.

Then first lady Melania Trump arrives for an event to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the “Be Best” initiative in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, on May 7, 2019. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

She said that if her husband wins in 2024 and she has the opportunity to serve as first lady for a second term, she would continue her “Be Best” campaign and “prioritize the well-being and development of children as I have always done.”

The “Be Best” campaign was her first major initiative as first lady, with the campaign focusing on child welfare and warning against the pitfalls of social media and opioids.

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