Donald Trump fined $10,000 by judge over second gag order violation – Times of India


Donald Trump was fined $10,000 for his second violation of a gag order in New York state’s $250 million civil fraud trial against him, after a judge unexpectedly called the former president to the stand and ruled his explanation of comments made outside the courtroom “not credible.”
Justice Arthur Engoronissued the fine Wednesday in Manhattan after Trump told the press during a short break that the person “sitting alongside” the judge was “very partisan.” That violated an October 3 order barring Trump from publicly discussing Engoron’s law clerk, the judge said.Last week, Trump was fined $5,000 for breaching the order by leaving a post about the clerk on his website.
Engoron issued the new fine after holding a brief hearing in which the judge called Trump to the witness stand to answer questions under oath about what he’d said. Trump testified that his comment had referred to the witness who was on the stand before the break, his former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen.
The events in New York on Wednesday had an immediate ripple effect. Hours after the hearing, federal prosecutors noted the latest violation in a court brief arguing to keep in place a partial gag order imposed by a judge in Washington in the election obstruction prosecution against Trump. One of Trump’s attorneys had assured the DC judge that the issue in New York with Trump’s original post about Engoron’s clerk had been “dealt with,” prosecutors wrote, but “that assurance turned out to be mistaken.”
The speech restrictions ordered by US District Judge Tanya Chutkan in the Washington case are temporarily on hold while she decides whether to grant Trump’s request for a longer reprieve as he appeals her ruling.
Engoron on Monday had called Trump’s explanation for his comments “not credible,” pointing to the fact that the law clerk sits right next to the judge at the bench, while the witness stand is farther away and has a physical barrier.
“I would just ask you to reconsider,” Trump attorney Christopher Kise said. “I don’t want to have to file another appeal.”
“The ruling stands,” Engoron said. “Don’t do it again or it will be worse.”
The gag order barred Trump and all parties from making personal attacks on members of his judicial staff. It was issued after Trump posted on social media an “untrue, disparaging and personally identifying post” about his law clerk, falsely claiming that the judge’s clerk was the “girlfriend” of Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer. The judge said such posts could lead to violence.
Before imposing the second fine Wednesday, Engoron said, “I am very protective of my staff. I called it an overheated environment. I don’t want anybody to be killed.”
Trump’s first violation of the gag order happened when it was discovered that the social media post had remained up on the former president’s campaign website.
When Engoron issued the $5,000 fine for that violation, he said he would not hold the former president in contempt because Trump’s lawyers assured him at the time that the posting on his website was “inadvertent” and a “first-time violation.”
But the judge said last week that any future violations, whether intentional or unintentional, will “subject the violator to far more severe sanctions, which may include, but are not limited to, steeper financial penalties, holding Donald Trump in contempt of court, and possibly imprisoning him pursuant to New York Judiciary Law.”
The trial, now in its fourth week, is one of six Trump is facing as he seeks to return to the White House, and his commentary about judges and prosecutors has previously gotten him in hot water. The former president last week appealed a partial gag order that prohibits him from publicly criticizing witnesses, prosecutors, and court staff involved in the federal election obstruction case against him in Washington.
The latest clash over the law clerk emerged after Trump lawyer Alina Habba complained about the judge’s clerk earlier in the day. Habba said the clerk made “eye rolls and was whispering from the bench,” which the defense lawyer called “distracting.”
Habba again complained after the new fine was issued, saying the clerk’s treatment of her is “totally inappropriate.” She added, “The influence from the bench is completely inappropriate and it should stop.”
Kise also weighed in, saying he’d never seen any clerk sit next to a judge as Engoron’s law clerk does. Cliff Robert, another defense lawyer, complained that having the clerk seated at the bench was “the equivalent of having two judges.”
The judge responded by saying all of his decisions are his alone, adding that the continued criticism of the clerk by Trump’s lawyers enforces his view that his clerk is being mistreated.


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