Ex-president fined for violating gag order

Former U.S. President Donald Trump attends his Manhattan courthouse trial in a civil fraud case in New York, U.S., October 18, 2023. 

Brendan Mcdermid | Reuters

A New York judge fined Donald Trump $5,000 on Friday after threatening the former president with jail time for violating a partial gag order in his civil fraud trial.

But Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron warned that future violations will subject Trump to “far more severe sanctions” — including imprisonment.

The fraud case brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James, accuses Trump, his two adult sons, his company and top executives of fraudulently inflating the values of their assets to get tax benefits and advantageous loan terms.

Trump has denied wrongdoing, though Engoron has already found the defendants liable for fraud and ordered the dissolution of their New York business certificates. The trial aims to settle six other claims by James, who seeks $250 million in damages and wants to bar the defendants from running a business in New York.

Friday’s fine, while small for Trump, is the first time the ex-president has faced punishment for violating court-ordered restrictions on his speech. Engoron made the decision after discovering that Trump had not fully deleted the social media post that prompted the speech restrictions in the first place.

The judge had imposed a narrow gag order earlier this month after Trump, the leading candidate for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, sent a Truth Social post attacking the judge’s law clerk. Engoron at the time ordered that the post be deleted, and he barred Trump and other parties in the case from making public statements about his staff.

But the post remained up on Trump’s website,, for more than two weeks, archived screenshots of the page show.

The left-leaning website MeidasTouch published an article Thursday about the not-deleted post. The Daily Beast reported that that article led attorneys on both sides of the trial to be notified about the post, which was ultimately removed Thursday night.

Engoron laced into Trump in court Friday morning.

“This is a blatant violation of the gag order. I made it clear failure to comply will result in serious sanctions,” the judge said. “It remained on the Donald J. Trump campaign site and in fact it has been on there for the past 17 days, [and] it was removed late last night after an email from this court.”

Trump was not in court to hear the rebuke, having left New York on Wednesday after attending two more days of the civil trial.

Defense attorney Christopher Kise apologized on Trump’s behalf, saying the violation was unintentional.

Engoron said he would take Kise’s remarks “under advisement,” but added that Trump “is still responsible for what appears on the site.”

“I want to make clear that Mr. Trump is responsible for the large machine, even if it is a large machine,” the judge said, according to NBC.

In his written order Friday afternoon, Engoron said that the effect of…

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