Former President Donald Trump was fined $5,000 by a New York judge on Friday for violating a gag order not to speak about any members of the court staff – and was warned twice about possible imprisonment.
“Donald Trump has received ample warning from this Court as to the possible repercussions of violating the gag order. He specifically acknowledged that he understood and would abide by it,” Judge Arthur Engoron said in his order Friday.
“Accordingly, issuing yet another warning is not longer appropriate; this Court is way behind the ‘warning’ stage.”
On the second day of the trial, October 3, Engoron issued a partial gag order on all parties not to speak about any members of the court staff after Trump posted on Truth Social attacking Engoron’s clerk. The post claimed she was a “girlfriend” to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, showing a picture of the two of them together.
The post was removed from Truth Social right after the gag order was issued, but it was not erased from Trump’s campaign website, DonaldJTrump.com.
In court, Engoron admonished the former president’s attorneys for a “blatant violation” of the gag order and suggested that violations could result in “imprisonment.”
“I learned that the subject post was never removed from the website,” he said. “And, in fact, had been on that website for the past 17 days. I understand that it was removed late last night but only in response to an email.”
Trump attorney Chris Kise apologized to Engoron, saying it was “inadvertent” that the post was able to live on what he called a “back page” of Trump’s campaign website.
“It appears no one also took down the ICYMI link that’s in the campaign website in the back pages,” Kise said.
“Truly this appears to be inadvertent,” Kise said, adding, “I certainly apologize on behalf of my clients.”
Kise blamed it on the large machinery of the campaign and was assured the judge that Trump ordered the post removed.
“There was no intention to evade, or circumvent, or ignore the order,” Kise added and explained nothing further has been posted on Trump’s Truth Social website.
Kise said he got confirmation Thursday night and Friday morning that the post had been taken down and said it appears to be an issue within the campaign.
“It’s part of the process that is built into the campaign structure as I understand it. That all of this, in Truth posts, are wrapped up and sent out.” Kise said.
Engoron said, “I will take this under advisement. I want to make clear that Donald Trump is still responsible for the large machine, even if it is a large machine.”
He added: “In the current overheated climate incendiary untruths can and in some cases already has lead to serious physical harm and worse.”
In his order Friday, the judge repeated his warning in no uncertain terms: “Make no mistake: future violations, whether intentional or unintentional, will subject the violator to far more severe sanctions, which may include, but are not limited to, steeper finanical penalties, holding Donald Trump in contempt of court, and possibly imprisoning him.”
Ivanka Trump is moving to quash a subpoena for her testimony saying she is beyond the court’s jurisdiction since she is not a party to the case and has not been a New York resident for seven years, in a motion filed Thursday.
The former president’s daughter was initially a defendant in the lawsuit, but earlier this year a New York appeals court dismissed her from the case after finding her alleged conduct fell outside the statute of limitations.
“Requiring Ms. Trump, a non-party, nondomiciliary, to appear at trial in New York and provide live testimony without any limitations is unreasonable. The NYAG plans to seek testimony from Ms. Trump on a vast, temporally unlimited, and undefined set of topics that the NYAG has failed to articulate,” the motion reads.
“The NYAG’s Subpoenas give no guidance as to what specific information they are seeking or why that information is sought, demand testimony well beyond the end of discovery that the NYAG could have previously obtained, and attempt to impose a heavy, unnecessary, and improper burden on Ms. Trump to fill apparent gaps in the NYAG’s case,” the motion also stated.
A hearing has been scheduled for next Friday.
This story has been updated with additional developments.