Trump Slapped with Fine for Breaking Silence Order: What’s Next if He Pulls That Stunt Again?

Alex Thompson By Alex Thompson Jun10,2024

NEW YORK (NEXSTAR) — The New York judge overseeing Donald Trump’s hush money case has ruled that the former president violated the gag order nine times with posts made to his social media and campaign website.

Trump was held in contempt Tuesday morning and fined $9,000 — $1,000 for each violation — by Judge Juan Merchan. It was a stinging rebuke for Trump, who has insisted he was exercising his free speech rights.

Trump now has until the close of business on Friday to pay the fine, and until 2:15 p.m. ET on Tuesday to remove seven offending posts from his Truth Social account and two from his campaign website.

Trump held in contempt — but what does that mean?

Merchan’s ruling noted that prosecutors “established the elements of criminal contempt beyond a reasonable doubt” for the nine violations Trump was fined for.

Merchan is weighing other alleged gag order violations by Trump, and is set to hear arguments again on Thursday. Trump has also appealed the gag order but it remains in effect for now.

If Trump is found to have violated the gag order yet again, what could happen?

As of Tuesday, it’s too soon to say, but Merchan warned the former president could be jailed. He wrote Trump “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.”

According to Cornell Law School, in New York, civil contempt is used to “protect parties’ rights to litigation,” while “criminal contempt is used to protect the judicial system but is generally meant to recognize an offense against public justice as opposed to a litigant.”

Hush money judge rules Trump violated gag order, warns of jail time

Criminal contempt in the first degree, under New York law, is treated as a class E felony, which could lead to imprisonment of up to four years — though it could be much less, depending on the judge’s decision.

Trump has violated gag orders before.

Last year, Trump was fined $15,000 for twice violating a gag order imposed at his New York civil fraud trial after he made a disparaging social media post about the judge’s chief law clerk. In 2022, Trump was held in contempt and fined $110,000 for being slow to respond to a subpoena in the investigation that led to the civil fraud lawsuit.

Court was resuming Tuesday with Gary Farro, a banker who helped Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen open accounts, including one that Cohen used to buy the silence of porn performer Stormy Daniels. She alleged a 2006 sexual encounter with Trump, which he denies.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Alex Thompson

By Alex Thompson

Alex is an award-winning journalist with a passion for investigative reporting. With over 15 years of experience in the field, Alex has covered a wide range of topics from politics to entertainment. Known for in-depth research and compelling storytelling, Alex's work has been featured in major news outlets around the world.

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2 thoughts on “Trump Slapped with Fine for Breaking Silence Order: What’s Next if He Pulls That Stunt Again?”
  1. I believe Trump needs to respect the gag order put in place, regardless of his personal opinions. It’s important to uphold the law and consequences should apply if rules are continuously broken.

  2. Trump was clearly warned, and yet he continues to defy the court’s orders. If he persists in his disobedience, jail time may be the only consequence left for him.

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