The ex-US president failed to comply with a demand to remove a post disparaging a court clerk, a New York judge has ruled
Former US President Donald Trump has been fined $5,000 for violating a gag order in his civil fraud trial, with a New York judge warning him of possible jail time if it happens again.
In a two-page document released on Friday, Justice Arthur Engoron said he had ordered Trump earlier this month to take down an “untrue [and] disparaging” post about his clerk while barring all sides in the trial from making public comments about any of his associates.
He was referring to a now-deleted post by Trump featuring a photo of the judge’s top clerk posing with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat and long-time critic of the 45th president, calling him the senator’s “girlfriend.”
While Trump removed the post from social media, it remained on his campaign’s website for 17 days, Engoron said, noting that Trump’s defense argued that the violation of the order was inadvertent.
Acknowledging that this may be the case, the judge still fined Trump $5,000, warning the ex-president that “future violations, whether intentional or unintentional,” could lead to “far more severe sanctions,” including steeper financial penalties, holding Trump in contempt of court, and even possibly imprisoning him.
The former president, who is the frontrunner for the Republican nomination in the 2024 presidential election, is embroiled in a number of legal battles, one of which is a civil lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
The prosecution argues that Trump committed fraud by inflating the value of his properties by billions of dollars to secure loans on better terms. He has maintained his innocence and accused James of conducting a witch hunt, while also referring to her earlier this month as a “political animal.” Trump and his attorneys have also claimed that all of the loans in question were fully repaid and that there was no injured party.
The gag order imposed by Engoron is not the only one Trump must abide by. Earlier this week, a similar measure was slapped on him in a criminal election interference case in which he is accused of conspiring to overturn his 2020 election loss to US President Joe Biden. Trump has pleaded not guilty.