Former US President Donald Trump has been fined $5,000 by a New York judge for violating a gag order in his civil fraud trial. The judge, Justice Arthur Engoron, warned Trump of possible jail time if he repeated the violation.
In a document released on Friday, Justice Engoron stated that he had previously ordered Trump to remove an “untrue [and] disparaging” post about his court clerk, while also prohibiting all sides in the trial from making public comments about any associates involved in the case. The post in question featured a photo of the judge’s top clerk posing with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, with Trump referring to the clerk as Schumer’s “girlfriend.”
Although Trump removed the post from his social media accounts, it remained on his campaign’s website for 17 days, according to Justice Engoron. In response to the violation, Trump’s defense argued that it was inadvertent. However, the judge still imposed a $5,000 fine, cautioning Trump that any future violations, whether intentional or unintentional, could result in more severe penalties, including increased financial sanctions, holding him in contempt of court, and potentially imprisoning him.
Trump currently faces multiple legal battles, including a civil lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James. The lawsuit alleges that Trump committed fraud by inflating the value of his properties to secure more favorable loans. Trump has maintained his innocence and accused James of conducting a politically motivated witch hunt. He has also claimed that all the loans in question were fully repaid and that no party was harmed.
Aside from the gag order in his civil fraud trial, Trump is also subject to a similar measure in a criminal election interference case. In this case, Trump is accused of conspiring to overturn his 2020 election loss to US President Joe Biden. Trump has pleaded not guilty in this case.
It is worth noting that violating a gag order is a serious offense, as it undermines the integrity of the legal process and can interfere with the fair administration of justice. Gag orders are put in place to ensure that trials are conducted in a fair and impartial manner, free from external influences that could taint the jury or compromise the proceedings.
As the frontrunner for the Republican nomination in the 2024 presidential election, Trump’s legal battles will continue to be closely watched. The outcome of these cases will have significant implications for his political future and could potentially affect the dynamics of the upcoming election.