The New York court presiding over Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial on Friday penalised him $5,000 for violating a partial gag order and threatened him with jail time for future infractions.
Judge Arthur Engoron ordered Trump, 77, to pay the amount to the New York Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection within the next 10 days.
“Make no mistake: future violations, whether intentional or unintentional, will subject the violator to far more severe sanctions,” Engoron said in a court filing.
“These may include, but are not limited to, steeper financial penalties, holding Donald Trump in contempt of court, and possibly imprisoning him pursuant to New York Judiciary Law,” the judge added.
Engoron issued the former president a restricted gag order on October 3 after he attacked the judge’s chief legal clerk in a social media post on his Truth Social platform.
The offending message was removed from Truth Social the same day, but the judge complained in his Friday filing that it stayed on a Trump 2024 campaign website for 17 days before the court requested that it be removed on Thursday.
Engoron stated Trump’s lawyers told him the violation of the gag order was “inadvertent.”
“Giving the defendant the benefit of the doubt, he still violated the gag order,” the judge said. “In the current overheated climate, incendiary untruths can, and in the same cases already have, lead to serious physical harm and worse.”
On October 3, as Trump sat at the defence table, Engoron said he was issuing a partial gag order “forbidding all parties from posting, emailing, or speaking publicly about any of my staff.”
Trump, the Republican presidential frontrunner in 2024, and his two eldest sons are charged in the New York case with misrepresenting the value of the Trump Organisation’s real estate holdings in order to obtain more favourable bank loans and insurance terms.
Trump personally attacked the judge on numerous occasions, calling him a “Trump-hating judge,” but Engoron, in his verbal gag order, only ordered a halt to attacks on his court staff.
The federal judge who will preside over Trump’s trial for conspiracy to disrupt the 2020 presidential election slapped a partial gag order on the former president on Monday.
US District Judge Tanya Chutkan has ordered Trump not to publicly criticise prosecutors, court personnel, or possible witnesses before the trial begins in March 2024 in Washington.
Chutkan temporarily removed her tight gag order on Friday, allowing Trump’s legal team time to demonstrate why the former president’s words should not be restricted as his case moves towards trial.