Donald Trump fined $9,000 US and threatened with jail for violating gag order

Judge in hush money trial threatens Trump with jail after holding him in contempt for violating gag order

By Stermy 5 Min Read

Former President Donald Trump has incurred contempt of court and a $9,000 fine for breaching a gag order intended to safeguard witnesses and jurors in his Manhattan criminal trial.

In Trump’s recent criminal trial, prosecutors requested Judge Juan Merchan to levy a $10,000 fine—$1,000 for each of 10 posts—citing a breach of the gag order and sought contempt charges against Trump. Merchan imposed a fine for nine of those posts.

Trump was instructed to remit the sum by Friday, May 3, and delete seven offending posts from his Truth Social account, along with two posts from his campaign website by 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday.

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“It is critically important that Defendant’s legitimate free speech rights not be curtailed, that he be able to fully campaign for the office which he seeks and that he be able to respond and defend himself against political attacks,” Merchan wrote in his order. “It is of utmost importance to this Court that the Expanded Order not be used as a sword instead of a shield by potential witnesses.”

Nevertheless, Merchan cautioned Trump that the court “will not tolerate continued willful violations of its lawful orders and that if necessary and appropriate under the circumstances, it will impose an incarceratory punishment.” In essence, the court may “consider whether in some instances, jail may be a necessary punishment.”

Prosecutors had recently urged Merchan to hold Trump in contempt for 10 posts made on his Truth Social profile and official campaign profile regarding potential witnesses in the case, such as former lawyer Michael Cohen and adult film star Stormy Daniels. Among these posts was one echoing Fox News host Jesse Waters’ opinion that “undercover liberal activist” were “lying to the judge in order to get on the Trump jury.”

On Thursday, Merchan will preside over a hearing concerning four additional posts raised by the prosecution last week.

Weeks before the trial’s commencement, Merchan issued a gag order on Trump, explicitly prohibiting him from making or directing others to make public statements about potential jurors, court staff, or their family members.

Last week, Trump again criticized Cohen in the courthouse hallway as he departed for the day.

“When are they going to look at all the lies that Cohen did in the last trial?” Trump said. Prosecutors contended that this statement constituted another violation, and they plan to file another order today.

Trump, the presumptive 2024 GOP presidential nominee, faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records with the intent to commit additional crimes ahead of the 2016 presidential election. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges. The jury has already heard from several witnesses, including former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker, First Republic Bank banker Gary Farro, and long-time Trump executive assistant Rhona Graff.

Trump’s lawyer, Todd Blanche, argued that when Trump addressed the case on Truth Social, he was merely defending himself against attacks from Daniels and Cohen. However, when pressed by Merchan to provide specific examples of these attacks, Blanche failed to do so. Blanche also attempted to argue that prosecutors did not challenge every related repost on Trump’s social media profile, a contention Merchan seemed to dismiss outright.

“You’re losing all the credibility with the court,” Merchan warned Trump’s lawyers as they debated whether Trump was attempting to comply with the order.

Trump has contested the gag order, including an unsuccessful attempt to postpone the trial while challenging it. An appeals court judge’s decision to uphold the gag order came less than a week before jury selection commenced.

Trump has argued that this order unconstitutionally restricts his political speech as he campaigns for the presidency. In the ruling that imposed the gag order, Merchan rejected Trump’s assertion that his statements “constitute core political speech.”

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By Stermy
Stermy is one Crazy fan of the word "Internet". Always online to stay informed and keep others updated. #townflex