Former President Donald Trump has been fined $5,000 by New York Judge Arthur Engoron for violating a partial gag order. This order was initially imposed by Judge Engoron to maintain decorum in the courtroom and prevent verbal attacks against court staff, following a social media criticism by Trump of a member of the judge’s office.
The violation occurred when, during a trial break on October 3, Trump posted an untrue and disparaging comment on his Truth Social account. The post falsely alleged a relationship between the judge’s law clerk and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and further claimed that the case should be dismissed because of this. Judge Engoron swiftly ordered Trump to remove the post, emphasizing that personal attacks on court staff are unacceptable. Trump initially complied by taking down the post and expressing his intention to refrain from such behavior.
However, Judge Engoron later discovered that the offending post had remained on Trump’s website for 17 days, only being removed following a court email. Trump’s lawyers argued that the violation was inadvertent, but Judge Engoron ruled that a violation of the gag order had indeed occurred.
Consequently, Trump was fined $5,000 as a nominal penalty. Judge Engoron issued a stern warning that future violations, whether intentional or unintentional, would result in much more severe consequences. These could include steeper financial penalties, contempt of court charges, and even imprisonment under New York Judiciary Law.
This civil trial was initiated by Attorney General Letitia James, who accused Trump and his company of misleading banks and others about the value of his assets. James claimed that Trump’s children, Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric, along with their associates and businesses, were involved in “numerous acts of fraud and misrepresentation” on their financial statements. An appellate ruling earlier limited James from suing for alleged transactions that occurred before certain dates and dismissed Ivanka Trump as a defendant.
Donald Trump has vehemently criticized the trial, Attorney General James, and Judge Engoron, accusing the latter of corruption. Trump’s spokesperson expressed disappointment that a jury trial was not an option, claiming that the case lacked merit.
In a separate development, a federal judge in the District of Columbia, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, also imposed a partial gag order against Trump in a case related to the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot. While Trump is allowed to criticize the Justice Department and argue that the case is politically motivated, he is prohibited from making attacks against prosecutors or court staff. Judge Chutkan warned of sanctions if Trump violates this order.