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Trump held in contempt of court in New York trial for gag order violations

In News, World
April 30, 2024

Judge says Trump violated the order nine times in hush money trial and warned future violations could result in jail time.

The judge in Donald Trump’s New York hush money trial has held the former United States president in contempt of court for repeatedly violating a gag order.

The order prohibited Trump from speaking publicly and posting on social media about individuals involved in the trial.

Judge Juan Merchan on Tuesday said Trump had violated the order nine times. He fined Trump $1,000 each for nine specific violations of the gag order, for a total of $9,000.

Prosecutors had detailed 14 possible violations to the court, and Merchan could make more determinations at a hearing on Thursday.

The judge also ordered Trump to remove seven “offending posts” from his Truth Social account and two from a campaign website by Tuesday afternoon.

He added Trump was “hereby warned 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”.

The decision came as Trump’s criminal trial entered its third week, with witness testimony continuing on Tuesday.

The former president faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records related to alleged hush money paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

Many of the gag order violations relate to Daniels, as well as Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen. Both are expected to testify at the trial.

Trump is not only barred from attacking witnesses but also jurors, court staff and their relatives.

The decision came at the start of the second week of witness testimony, following the days-long testimony of former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker last week.

Pecker said he entered into an agreement with Trump to be the “eyes and ears” of the campaign, and coordinated with Cohen to stifle negative stories ahead of the election.

The charges against Trump specifically relate to $130,000 he allegedly reimbursed Cohen for, after the lawyer paid Daniels for her silence.

Daniels had claimed to have an affair with Trump, though he denies any liaison. His lawyers have argued he was acting within the law.

To make felony charges stand, prosecutors must convince the jury that Trump falsified records in service of another crime. They have argued that crime included illegal efforts to influence the 2016 election, which he ultimately won over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

Trump is currently the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party in the 2024 presidential election. The New York trial is the result of one of four criminal indictments Trump currently faces: The other three have yet to proceed to trial.

No matter the outcome, the proceedings are historic: Trump is the first current or former president to face criminal prosecution.

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