The former U.S. president was embroiled in fresh controversy in the latest development surrounding Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial. On Wednesday, Justice Arthur Engoron, overseeing the case, fined Trump $10,000 for yet another infraction of a previously imposed gag order. This order, originating from an incident where Trump disparaged court personnel on social media, now marks its second violation.
The incident leading to the original gag order occurred on October 3 when Trump, defying court etiquette and decorum, shared a misleading photo on social media. It depicted the judge’s chief clerk with U.S. Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer, accompanying it with an untrue insinuation about their relationship.
Breach of Court Etiquette and Protocol
Further incidents in court heightened the tension. During a recess in the ongoing fraud investigation initiated by New York Attorney General Letitia James, Trump openly criticized the impartiality of the judicial process. He referred to Justice Engoron as “very partisan,” insinuating bias due to the presence of an even more “partisan” individual, presumably alluding to Engoron’s clerk.
Justice Engoron, addressing these comments, identified them as a clear violation of the court’s gag order. This breach came to light during a critical moment in the trial when Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, was testifying against him. While Trump attempted to deflect his statements as references to other individuals, the judge dismissed these explanations, warning against further misconduct.
Escalating Tensions and Stakes in the Trial
The repercussions of Trump’s actions aren’t merely symbolic. Following this, the former president, speculated to be preparing for another presidential run in 2024, faced immediate financial consequences, as detailed by Reuters. These fines add to penalties imposed just days earlier, highlighting the court’s diminishing tolerance for such breaches.
Justice Engoron, demonstrating the gravity of the situation, had already fined Trump $5,000 for a similar offence. Should these infractions continue, he sternly cautioned more severe repercussions, including potential incarceration.
The trial continues amidst allegations suggesting illicit business practices within the Trump Organization, potentially threatening its structure. The case underscores the high stakes with Cohen’s testimony shedding light on purportedly inflated asset values, marking Trump’s and Cohen’s first confrontation in half a decade since their professional fallout.