Judge Threatens Heavy Sanctions or Jail Time for Donald Trump Over Violation of Gag Order in New York Fraud Trial
Judge Threatens Sanctions or Jail Time for Donald Trump Over Gag Order Violation
A judge strongly criticized Donald Trump on Friday, expressing the possibility of severe penalties or even imprisonment for the former president due to a clear violation of a partial gag order in his $250 million New York fraud trial.
“False statements can be extremely harmful and have resulted in significant physical harm,” warned Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron, questioning a defense lawyer about why Trump should not face punishment or incarceration.
Trump’s lawyer apologized on his behalf, stating that the violation was unintentional.
This is the first time that Trump has faced potential consequences for disregarding court-ordered restrictions on his speech. Trump was not present in court to hear the reprimand as he had left New York after attending two additional days of the civil trial.
Earlier this month, Engoron issued a narrow gag order in the case after Trump posted on social media attacking the judge’s law clerk.
Engoron ordered the removal of the Truth Social post and prohibited Trump and other involved parties from making public statements about his staff.
However, screenshots show that the post remained on Trump’s website, donaldjtrump.com, for over two weeks.
Last Thursday, the left-leaning website MeidasTouch published an article about the still-visible post. Attorneys on both sides of the trial were subsequently alerted, and the post was finally removed on Thursday night.
“Last night I learned the offending post was never removed from a website,” Engoron stated in court on Friday morning.
“This is a blatant violation of the gag order. I made it clear that failure to comply would result in serious penalties. It remained on the Donald J. Trump campaign site for the past 17 days and was only removed late last night after an email from this court,” he added.
“False statements can be extremely harmful,” Engoron emphasized. “I will now allow the defendant to explain why he should not face severe penalties or even potential imprisonment.”
Defense attorney Christopher Kise argued that the violation was “truly inadvertent” based on his understanding of the facts.
“The Truth Social post was taken down as requested by the court,” Kise stated. However, he acknowledged that it was not removed from the campaign website.
“On behalf of my client, I apologize for this unfortunate incident,” Kise added.
The case, filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James, accuses Trump, his two adult sons, his company, and top executives of fraudulently inflating asset values to obtain tax benefits and favorable loan terms.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing, although Engoron has already found the defendants liable for fraud and ordered the dissolution of their New York business certificates. The trial aims to address six other claims by James, seeking $250 million in damages and a ban on the defendants conducting business in New York.
In addition to Engoron’s gag order, Trump’s speech in legal matters is limited by a partial gag order imposed by a federal judge in Washington, D.C. This order, issued in mid-October, prohibits Trump from publicly targeting the special counsel and potential witnesses in special counsel Jack Smith’s criminal case accusing Trump of conspiring to overturn his 2020 election loss to President Joe Biden. Trump’s attorneys are currently appealing this order.