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NY v Trump: Judge regrets he can’t fine 45th president more money in gag order ruling

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The judge presiding over the NY v. Trump trial in Manhattan lamented not being able to fine former President Trump more than $1,000 for each violation of his gag order amid the trial. 

Judge Juan Merchan fined Trump $9,000 Tuesday morning for violating a gag order that bans him from speaking publicly about witnesses and family members of court officials. The judge found he violated the order on nine separate occasions, with each violation resulting in a $1,000 fine. 

The judge detailed in the order that if Trump carries out “continued willful violations” of the gag order, he could face “incarceratory punishment” if “necessary and appropriate.”

In the text of his order, Merchan lamented that the fines’ costs “unfortunately will not achieve the desired result in those instances where the contemnor can easily afford such a fine.” 

LIVE UPDATES: NEW YORK V. TRUMP TRIAL ENTERS THIRD WEEK AS JUDGE FINES TRUMP FOR GAG ORDER VIOLATIONS

Former President Trump returns to Trump Tower, New York City, Monday, April 15, 2024. Trump was in Manhattan Criminal Court today for jury selection in the so-called “hush-money” case. (Probe-Media for Fox New Digital)

“Criminal contempt is punishable by a fine not exceeding $1,000, by jail not exceeding 30 days or by both in the discretion of the court, for each violation of a court order,” Merchan wrote. 

NY V TRUMP CRIMINAL TRIAL BEGINS ITS 3RD WEEK AS FORMER PRESIDENT ACCUSED OF GAG ORDER VIOLATIONS

A court sketch depicts the second day of former President Donald Trump’s criminal trial

A court sketch depicts the second day of former President Trump’s criminal trial in Manhattan Criminal Court on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (Christine Cornell)

“However, the Judiciary Law, does not vest the Court with authority to craft an appropriate punishment when a $1,000 fine will not achieve the intended purpose. While $1,000 may suffice in most instances to protect the dignity of the judicial system, to compel respect for its mandates and to punish the offender for disobeying a court order, it unfortunately will not achieve the desired result in those instances where the contemnor can easily afford such a fine,” he continued. 

Merchan continued that it would be “preferable” if the court “could impose a fine more commensurate with the wealth of the contemnor.”

NY PROSECUTORS REVEAL ‘ANOTHER CRIME’ TRUMP ALLEGEDLY TRIED TO CONCEAL WITH FALSIFIED BUSINESS RECORDS

Judge Merchan poses for photo in light blue tie, white shirt

Judge Juan Merchan poses for a picture in his chambers on Thursday, March 14, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

“In some cases that might be a $2,500 fine, in other cases it might be a fine of $150,000. Because this Court is not cloaked with such discretion, it must therefore consider whether in some instances, jail may be a necessary punishment,” he said, highlighting again that Trump could face time behind bars if he continues violating the order. 

TRUMP TRIAL: FORMER PRESIDENT ‘INNOCENT,’ DEFENSE SAYS AS DA ALLEGES ‘CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY’

Trump is on trial regarding 34 felony counts of falsifying business records during the 2016 election cycle. He has pleaded not guilty to each charge and slammed the case as a “witch hunt” and “scam.”

Donald Trump in dark coat and royal blue tie

Former President Trump speaks to the media as he leaves court during his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments at Manhattan Criminal Court on April 22, 2024 in New York City. Trump faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first of his criminal cases to go to trial. (Brendan McDermid-Pool/Getty Images)

The NY v. Trump case focuses on Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen paying former pornographic actor Stormy Daniels $130,000 to allegedly quiet her claims of an alleged extramarital affair she had with the then-real estate tycoon in 2006. Trump has denied having an affair with Daniels. 

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Prosecutors allege that the Trump Organization reimbursed Cohen and fraudulently logged the payments as legal expenses. Prosecutors are working to prove that Trump falsified records with the intent to commit or conceal a second crime, which is a felony. Prosecutors this week said the second crime was a violation of a New York law called “conspiracy to promote or prevent election.”



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