Trump fined by New York judge for violating gag order in hush money trial

Trump could face jail time if he violates the gag order again, a judge warned.
Trump Hush Money
Posted at 7:15 AM, Apr 30, 2024

Former President Donald Trump has been fined $9,000 after nine separate violations of a gag order in his New York hush money case. Judge Juan Merchan said Trump violated an order regarding what he could say about the case, including talking about potential witnesses, jurors, and the judge's family.

Prosecutors cited 10 violations of the gag order last week. Merchan accepted nine of the 10 allegations.

Merchan will consider four additional alleged violations of the gag order later this week.

Merchan warned Trump that he could be jailed if he commits any further violations of the gag order.

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AP via Scripps News
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Prosecutors said Trump violated the gag order by posting disparaging comments involving potential witnesses Michael Cohen, who served as a former attorney for Trump, and Stormy Daniels. Prosecutors also said Trump tried to influence the jury after reposting remarks on April 17 from Fox News' Jesse Waters that said, "They're catching undercover liberal activists lying to the judge in order to get on the Trump jury.” Merchan noted that the following day, a juror asked to be dismissed.

"Defendant violated those restrictions by making or directing to be made the social media posts and posts on the campaign website," the prosecutor's filings said. "The posts unquestionably relate to known witnesses and prospective jurors in this criminal trial."

In defense of Trump's comments, attorney Todd Blanche said, “Trump 'truths' repeatedly, all day, virtually seven days a week.”

Trump faces 34 felony counts for falsifying business records in an alleged scheme to influence the 2016 presidential election.

The fine was announced before questioning continued on Tuesday of Gary Farro, who served as Trump attorney Michael Cohen's former banker. Cohen allegedly provided payments to the National Enquirer to capture and sit on allegedly scandalous stories involving Trump during the run-up to the 2016 election.

Also on the witness stand Tuesday was Keith Davidson, a lawyer who represented ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal and porn actor Stormy Daniels.

Davidson testified that the National Enquirer bought the rights to McDougal's story that accused Trump of an affair.

He said he understood an unspoken plan that the magazine intended to keep and never publish the story because it could be detrimental to Trump.

Davidson also described the 2016 leak of the Access Hollywood tape, in which Trump bragged of touching women sexually without their consent. He explained that the news made Stormy Daniels' story alleging that Trump paid for sex more marketable, and described how he arrived at a deal with Michael Cohen to pay Daniels $130,000 for the story.

Other individuals also appeared in the courtroom Tuesday: Trump's son Eric, the first of his family to attend the trial; and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who accompanied Trump when he entered the courtroom.

At the close of the session on Tuesday, Trump spoke to reporters, calling the gag order "unconstitutional" and again falsely claiming that the trial was orchestrated by the Biden administration.