Trump Fined $9,000 Over Gag Order Violations, Judge Warns of Jail Time

Trump Fined $9,000 Over Gag Order Violations, Judge Warns of Jail Time

Former President Donald Trump has been fined $9,000 for repeatedly violating a gag order in his ongoing criminal trial in New York. Judge Juan Merchan imposed the maximum financial penalty allowed under New York state law, ruling that Trump had breached the order in nine out of 10 instances alleged by prosecutors.

The violations primarily stemmed from Trump's posts on Truth Social and his campaign website, where he made comments attacking individuals involved in the trial, including his former lawyer Michael Cohen and adult film actress Stormy Daniels. These posts were deemed to be in violation of the gag order, which is intended to protect trial participants from undue influence or harassment.

In an eight-page order, Judge Merchan warned Trump that further violations could result in jail time, emphasizing that the court would not tolerate continued defiance of its lawful orders. Trump was instructed to remove the offending posts, and a new hearing on alleged violations was scheduled for Thursday.

The judge also admonished Michael Cohen for his actions on social media, suggesting that Cohen might be exempted from the gag order if he continued to provoke Trump. Merchan emphasized that the purpose of the gag order is to protect the integrity of the proceedings, and individuals who undermine this purpose may not require protection themselves.

Trump's legal team argued that many of the posts in question were responses to attacks against him, or were reposts of articles and opinions from others, including Fox News host Jesse Watters. However, Judge Merchan appeared skeptical of these arguments, questioning why Trump waited to respond to certain comments and highlighting instances where Trump manipulated quotes to fit his narrative.

The contempt hearing underscored the seriousness of the violations, particularly when Judge Merchan clarified that one post inaccurately attributed to Jesse Watters had been manipulated by Trump himself. This further demonstrated the need for strict adherence to the gag order to ensure the fairness and integrity of the trial proceedings.

The scope of the gag order was expanded earlier this month after Judge Merchan rebuked Trump for making threatening and inflammatory statements about the case. Under the expanded order, Trump is prohibited from making or directing others to make public statements about trial witnesses, prosecutors, or court staff.

The trial centers around a 34-count indictment against Trump, alleging that he falsified business records to conceal hush-money payments made to Stormy Daniels during his 2016 presidential campaign. Trump's legal team has vehemently contested the charges, arguing that many of the posts in question were legitimate responses to attacks and criticisms against him.

Despite the ongoing legal battles, Trump has continued to express his frustration with the trial and the legal system as a whole. His combative approach to the proceedings has drawn scrutiny from both the court and the public, underscoring the high stakes involved in the case.

As the trial progresses, all eyes will be on Judge Merchan's courtroom, where the fate of the former president hangs in the balance. With the specter of jail time looming and the potential for further penalties, Trump's legal team will be under pressure to comply with the court's orders and mount a vigorous defense on behalf of their client.

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