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Hush Money Trial Judge Raises Possibility of Jail Time as He Rules Trump Breached Gag Order, Levies $9K Fine

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan (Credits: NBC)

Donald Trump has been held in contempt of court and fined $9,000 for repeatedly violating a gag order in his New York hush money case. The judge, Juan M. Merchan, found Trump guilty of nine violations out of the ten alleged by prosecutors.

Trump, who faced the possibility of jail time if he continues to violate the gag order, received a stinging rebuke from the judge, who emphasized that even a former president is subject to trial procedures and legal restrictions.

The gag order prohibited Trump from making public statements about witnesses, jurors, and others connected to the case. Despite Trump’s argument that he was exercising his free speech rights, Judge Merchan emphasized the importance of upholding lawful orders and ensuring a fair trial process.

Donald J. Trump (Credits: The Guardian)

The judge’s warning of potential incarceration underscored the seriousness of the situation for Trump, who faces the prospect of becoming the first former U.S. president behind bars.

Trump’s experience with gag orders is not new, as he has faced similar restrictions in other legal matters. In his civil fraud trial, he paid fines exceeding $15,000 for violating orders. He is also subject to a gag order in his federal criminal election interference case in Washington.

The ruling in New York came during the second week of testimony in the historic case, which involves allegations of an illegal scheme to influence the 2016 presidential campaign through hush money payments. Trump has pleaded not guilty to the charges, claiming that the stories are false.

Donald Trump

Donald Trump (Credits: The New Republic)

In response to the ruling, Trump deleted the offending posts from his Truth Social account and campaign website and has until Friday to pay the fine. The judge also indicated that he would halt the trial on May 17 to allow Trump to attend his son Barron’s high school graduation.

Despite the setback, Trump’s legal team continues to argue that the payments were aimed at protecting his name and family rather than influencing the election outcome.

The trial is expected to last for another month or more, with testimony from key witnesses, including Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen, anticipated in the coming weeks.

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