US: Trump fined $9,000 for repeatedly violating gag order in hush money trial 0

The New York judge presiding over Donald Trump’s hush money trial fined the former president on Tuesday for defying a gag order and warned that further violations could result in jail time.

Judge Juan Merchan held the 77-year-old Trump in contempt of court for breaching an order that he not publicly attack witnesses, jurors or court staff and their relatives.

Merchan fined Trump $1,000 each for nine specific violations of the gag order, and instructed him to remove seven “offending posts” from his Truth Social account and two from a campaign website by Tuesday afternoon.

The judge also warned the former president that he could be sent to jail if he continues to violate the gag order.

“Defendant is hereby warned that the Court will not tolerate continued willful violations of its lawful orders and that if necessary and appropriate under the circumstances, it will impose an incarceratory punishment,” Merchan said.

The judge delivered his order before testimony resumed in Trump’s historic trial on charges of falsifying business records to pay hush money to a porn star, Stormy Daniels.

Trump is the first former US president to face criminal charges, and his required attendance in court is limiting his time on the campaign trail less than seven months before his likely election rematch with President Joe Biden.

The Republican is accused of falsifying business records to reimburse his then-lawyer, Michael Cohen, for the $130,000 funneled to Daniels just days ahead of the 2016 election against Hillary Clinton.

Daniels, 45, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, was threatening at the time to go public with her story about an alleged 2006 sexual encounter with Trump that could have potentially derailed his White House campaign.

Trump denies having sex with Daniels and has used appearances outside the Manhattan courtroom to rail against his indictment, claiming it is a “witch hunt” brought by Democrats to torpedo his bid to recapture the White House in November.

‘Catch and kill’

Gary Farro, a former senior managing director of the now defunct First Republic Bank, took the witness stand on Tuesday after briefly testifying on Friday.

Cohen, Trump’s “fixer,” set up an account at First Republic in the name of a company called Essential Consultants to arrange for the payment to Daniels.

Cohen, who has become a vocal Trump critic, and Daniels are expected to be star prosecution witnesses during the trial.

The opening of the trial was dominated last week by testimony by a former tabloid publisher who said he suppressed potentially damaging stories about Trump.

David Pecker, 72, outlined a scheme known as “catch and kill,” which involved buying and then burying salacious stories that could have been embarrassing to the real estate tycoon and harmed his campaign.

The former National Enquirer publisher told the court he paid $30,000 to kill a story from a Trump Tower doorman peddling an apparently false claim that Trump had fathered a child out of wedlock.

He said $150,000 was paid to squash a story from Karen McDougal, a Playboy model who claimed to have had a year-long affair with Trump.

The case, heard by 12 jurors and six alternates, is expected to last between six and eight weeks.

In addition, Trump has been indicted in Washington and Georgia on charges of conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

He also faces charges in Florida of allegedly mishandling classified documents after leaving the White House.

Source: AFP