Trump Held in Contempt for Repeatedly Violating Gag Order

donald trump gag order

The judge in Donald Trump’s hush money trial has found the former president in contempt of court for repeatedly violating a gag order, and fining him $9,000 — $1,000 for nine separate violations.. 

Judge Juan Merchan determined on Tuesday that Trump had breached a court order barring him from publicly commenting on court staff, prosecutors, prospective jurors, or their families in 9 out of 10 instances alleged by Manhattan prosecutors. Merchan is expected to hear arguments regarding four more additional violations in a hearing on Thursday. 

Merchan also warned Trump that “the Court will not tolerate continued willful violations of its lawful orders and that if necessary and appropriate under the circumstances, it will impose an incarceratory punishment,” echoing past warnings to the former president that he will not hesitate to revoke his bail if he’s unable to comply with court rules. 

Since the start of his trial, Trump has been accused of violating a limited gag order imposed by Merchan in March after the former president’s repeated attacks against individuals involved in the case, as well as the judge’s family. Rolling Stone reported earlier this month that Trump hasn’t been taking the gag order seriously, believing he will not face serious repercussions for violating it.

The former president has taken direct aim at two key witnesses in the case, his former attorney and fixer Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels, the adult film actress who received the hush money payment at the center of the case. 

In April, Trump posted an image of a statement signed by Daniels in 2018 which purportedly denied her alleged affair with the former president. Trump falsely accused the media of burying the statement, which Daniels later said she had signed believing there would be legal repercussions if she didn’t. 

In several posts and public statements, Trump attacked Cohen over his past convictions. In 2018, Cohen was sentenced to 36 months in prison after pleading guilty to having committed campaign finance violations through his payment to Daniels. That same year, he admitted to perjuring himself before the Senate Intelligence Committee and House Intelligence Committee and was sentenced to two months in prison. 

The former president has publicly referred to Cohen — who is expected to testify in his trial — as a “serial perjurer,” a “convicted liar,” and a “disgraced attorney and felon.” In televised statements given to reporters outside of the courtroom, Trump questioned why Cohen’s past criminal convictions had been excluded from evidence. “When are they going to look at all the lies and the last trial — he got caught lying in the last trial,” Trump said last week.

If attacking witnesses wasn’t enough, Trump has also publicly cast aspersions on the integrity of the jury selection process. 

State attorneys pointed to the former president’s invocation of right-wing conspiracies about the jury selection process as the “most disturbing” example of his disregard for the public integrity of the case. In a Truth Social post, Trump quoted Fox News host Jesse Watters, who claimed: “They are catching undercover Liberal Activists lying to the Judge in order to get on the Trump jury.”  


Prosecutor Chris Conroy called the alleged violations “willful beyond a reasonable doubt” in arguments before Merchan last week. “It’s clear he knows about the order, he knows what he’s not allowed to do, and he does it anyway,” Conroy added.

Trump’s attorney, Todd Blanche, at one point insisted to Merchan that Trump was aware of the gag order and trying to comply with it. Merchan wasn’t having it. “You’re losing all credibility,” Merchan responded. “I have to tell you right now, you’re losing all credibility with the court.”

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