In an ongoing civil trial for alleged fraud, former USA President Donald Trump has been fined $5,000 by a New York state judge for violating a gag order.
Judge Arthur Engoron imposed the $5,000 fine on Trump after implementing a social media gag order on October 3. This order prohibited the ex-president and other parties involved from publicly discussing court staff, following a disparaging post made by Trump about Engoron’s clerk.
Although Trump promptly deleted the post from Truth Social on October 3, just hours before the gag order took effect, it remained on Trump’s campaign website until it was brought to attention on social media this Thursday.
Trump’s lawyer, Christopher Kise, apologized after Engoron raised concerns about the post at the beginning of the trial on Friday. Kise argued that leaving the post up had been an unintentional mistake.
Engoron stated in a written order that the impact of the post on its subject remained unaffected by the reasons behind its continued presence on the website. Additionally, after providing Trump with sufficient warnings regarding the consequences of violating the gag order, the judge deemed further warnings unnecessary, stating that “this Court is way beyond the ‘warning’ stage.”
While Engoron indicated during the trial on Friday that this “blatant violation” could result in more severe sanctions against Trump, including potential jail time, he clarified in his written order that he would only impose a “nominal” fine. This decision was influenced by the attorneys’ assertion that it was a mistake and considering it was a first-time violation.
The judge suggested that Trump could face more serious repercussions if he were to violate the gag order again, whether intentionally or unintentionally. These consequences may include steeper financial penalties, holding Trump in contempt of court, and even imprisonment, according to Engoron.
“In the current overheated climate, incendiary untruths can, and in some cases already have, led to serious physical harm, and worse,” Engoron emphasized in his written statement.
The ongoing trial aims to determine whether Trump and his business associates engaged in fraud by misrepresenting the valuations of their assets on financial statements for personal gain. It is expected to conclude in mid-December. If found liable, Engoron may impose various penalties on Trump and his associates, including his sons.
Furthermore, the state has proposed a $250 million fine and the prohibition of Trump from operating any New York companies or making commercial real estate acquisitions.