May 24th, 2024

The Latest | Judge fines Trump $1K for contempt, threatens jail time if he violates gag order again

By The Associated Press on May 6, 2024.

NEW YORK (AP) – The judge in Donald Trump’s hush money trial sanctioned him Monday morning for violating his gag order for a second time.

Judge Juan M. Merchan fined the former president $1,000 and warned that going forward, additional violations could result in jail time. Prosecutors had accused Trump of four violations, but the judge only concurred with one.

Witness testimony was set to resume following Merchan’s ruling, setting the stage for an even deeper dive into the events and people involved in what prosecutors have said was a scheme to influence the 2016 presidential election by buying and burying negative stories about the then-candidate.

The trial is in its 12th day.

Former Trump adviser Hope Hicks took the stand last week, recounting how Trump’s campaign was turned upside-down following the leak of a video wherein he bragged about grabbing women without their permission.

Keith Davidson, who represented porn actor Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal in hush money negotiations, also took the stand. Davidson spent hours detailing his role in securing payouts for Daniels and McDougal in exchange for their silence about previous sexual encounters they said they had with Trump.

Overall, prosecutors are setting the stage for pivotal testimony from Michael Cohen, who paid Daniels $130,000 for her silence before he went to prison for the hush money scheme.

Trump is accused of falsifying internal business records to cover up hush money payments – including the payment to Daniels – recording them instead as legal expenses.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.

The case is the first-ever criminal trial of a former U.S. president and the first of four prosecutions of Trump to reach a jury.


– Hush money, catch and kill and more: Terms to know in Trump trial

– What Trump’s gag order means in his hush money case

– Key players: Who’s who at Donald Trump’s hush money criminal trial

– The hush money case is just one of Trump’s legal cases. See the others here

– Hulk Hogan, hurricanes and a blockbuster recording: A week in the Trump hush money trial

Here’s the latest:


The judge in Donald Trump’s hush money case found on Monday that Donald Trump had violated his gag order with comments he gave to a program called “Just the News No Noise” on April 22, which is broadcast on Real America’s Voice.

On the program, the former president criticized the speed at which the jury was picked and claimed it was stacked with Democrats. “The jury was picked so fast. 95 percent Democrats. The area’s mostly all Democrat,” he is quoted as saying.

In his ruling, Judge Juan M. Merchan said the comments “not only called into question the integrity, and therefore the legitimacy of these proceedings, but again raised the specter of fear for the safety of the jurors and of their loved ones.”

The gag order bars Trump from making comments about the jurors, key witnesses and some others connected to the criminal trial.


The judge presiding over former President Donald Trump’s hush money trial has fined him an additional $1,000 for again violating a gag order barring him from making inflammatory comments about witnesses and jurors.

Judge Juan M. Merchan warned on Monday that additional gag order violations could potentially result in jail time.

“The last thing I want to do is put you in jail. You are the former president of the United States and possibly the next president as well,” Merchan said. “There are many reasons why incarceration is truly a last resort for me. To take that step would be disruptive to these proceedings.”

Trump sat forward in his seat, glowering at the judge as he handed down the ruling. Once the judge finished speaking, Trump shook his head twice and crossed his arms.

Prosecutors had accused Trump of four violations, but the judge only concurred with one.

The judge had previously fined Trump $9,000 for nine earlier violations in posts on Truth Social and his website.


Before heading into the courtroom Monday morning, Donald Trump spoke to reporters, relaying familiar complaints about the fairness of the trial, the judge and the gag order that stops him commenting on witnesses and jurors.

He also noted the breaking news that Columbia University canceled its main commencement following weeks of pro-Palestinian protests.

“That shouldn’t happen,” he said.


Donald Trump has arrived at the courthouse in lower Manhattan as witness testimony in his hush money trial enters its third week.



Witness testimony in Donald Trump’s criminal trial is entering its third week on Monday and it remains to be seen who will take the stand next.

Over the past couple weeks, jurors have heard from a host of different people.

Following a weeklong jury selection process that began mid-April, jurors heard first from former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker, who among other things explained his pledge to be the “eyes and ears” of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Keith Davidson, a lawyer who represented porn actor Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal in hush money negotiations, also took the stand. And jurors heard from others such as a forensic analyst who examined Michael Cohen’s phones and a paralegal with the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

Former White House press secretary and ex-Trump adviser Hope Hicks on Friday painted a vivid picture of the chaos that unfolded after the “Access Hollywood” tape leaked and the Wall Street Journal ran a story about McDougal’s hush money deal.

The defense cross-examined Hicks for roughly 20 minutes before court adjourned early last Friday.


Although an ensemble of different people have testified in Donald Trump’s hush money case over the past two weeks, one pivotal witness has been frequently heard but not yet seen: Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and personal fixer.

Jurors last week began hearing Cohen’s words on audio recordings as prosecutors worked to directly tie Trump to payments to silence women with damaging claims about him before the 2016 election.

Jurors heard, in particular, a potentially crucial piece of evidence: a recording of Trump and Cohen, then his attorney, discussing a plan to pay off an ex-Playboy model who claimed to have an affair with Trump. The former president denies the affair.

They also heard a few witnesses recount their interactions with Cohen – some pleasant and others far less so.

It’s unclear when the prosecution’s star witness will take the stand.


Donald Trump is expected to return to Manhattan court as his hush money trial enters its 12th day.

Last week’s proceedings saw a frenzy of witnesses take the stand, including former Trump adviser Hope Hicks and Keith Davidson, a lawyer who represented porn actor Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal in hush money negotiations with Cohen and the National Enquirer.

The week also saw Trump fined $9,000 by Judge Juan M. Merchan for violating a gag order that bars the former president from speaking publicly about key witnesses, jurors and others in the case. A second contempt hearing was held on Thursday over four more prospective violations, but Merchan did not immediately issue a decision.

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