October 21, 2023

Over Trump's 'blatant violation' of a gag order in the New York City fraud trial, judge imposes $5,000 punishment

Former President Donald Trump was fined $5,000 on Friday by the Manhattan judge presiding over his $250 million civil fraud trial for failing to remove a social media post insulting the judge's clerk from his campaign website.

According to a report by the New York Post, the judge also threatened to send Trump to jail for any breaches of a "gag" order.

The judge's decision came after he heard Trump's explanation that a screenshot of the post, in which the 45th president disparaged Engoron's top law clerk, Allison Greenfield, was left on Trump's website "inadvertently" for 17 days.

Following an earlier court order barring Trump from publicly criticizing Engoron's staff, the Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron slapped Trump, 77, with the comparatively light penalty.

Possible Further Violations

If Trump again violates the gag order, the judge, who has already found him guilty of fraud for making "indisputably" false promises to achieve preferential terms with banks, has declared that such justifications will not be tolerated.

“Make no mistake: future violations, whether intentional or unintentional, will subject the violator to far more severe sanctions,” Engoron wrote Friday, including “steeper financial penalties, holding Donald Trump in contempt of court, and possibly imprisoning him.”

New York's Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection, a public trust that compensates clients for financial losses caused by "dishonest" professional behavior and demanded the $5,000 from Trump be paid within 10 days.

Hours before issuing his penalty, Engoron interrogated Trump's attorneys about why the 2024 GOP frontrunner had not removed the social media post that falsely accused Greenfield of being "Schumer's girlfriend."

Implications in the Senate

Greenfield and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) were pictured together at a campaign event, which was posted online.

One of Schumer's spokespeople termed Trump's post "ridiculous, absurd, and false," adding that the senator does not know Greenfield.

Chris Kise, Trump's attorney, said the social media screenshot was accidentally left up until last night after being posted "automatically" to Trump's campaign website.

As of Thursday, when the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James accused Trump's lawyer of not treating officials with respect, tensions were already high between Trump's lawyers and the AG's office.

The judge in James' massive lawsuit has already ruled that Trump committed fraud, the main claim, saying that the ex-president made "indisputably" false statements in his financial papers.

Trump's legal team is appealing Engoron's September verdict finding him liable for fraud and attempting to move forward with dissolving his New York "business certificates," both of which could severely restrict the capacity of Trump's long-standing corporation to function in New York.

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