(The Hill) — A New York judge on Friday fined former President Trump $5,000 after a derogatory post about the judge’s principal clerk was not removed from the 2024 candidate’s campaign website, despite a clear order from the judge.
Judge Arthur Engoron did not hold Trump in contempt of court, but warned that further violation of the gag order he imposed after Trump’s Truth Social account made the post could result in serious punishment, including steeper financial penalties, contempt or even jail time.
“Donald Trump has received ample warning from this Court as to the possible repercussions of violating the gag order,” Engoron said. “He specifically acknowledged that he understood and would abide by it.”
“Accordingly, issuing yet another warning is no longer appropriate; this Court is way beyond the ‘warning’ stage,” he added.
The post, posted on Trump’s account while he sat just feet away from the clerk, derided her as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) “girlfriend” and included personally identifying information about her.
Once Engoron became aware of the post, he issued a limited gag order barring Trump or any other party in the case from posting or speaking publicly about members of his staff. He also ordered Trump to delete the post, and while it was removed from his Truth Social account, it remained on his campaign website for 17 days.
In court Friday, Trump lawyer Chris Kise blamed the “very large machine” of Trump’s presidential campaign for allowing his deleted social media post to remain on his website, calling it an unintentional oversight.
Engoron acknowledged Trump’s assertion that the post staying up was inadvertent and said he would give him the “benefit of the doubt.”
However, the gag order was still violated, he said, warning that in the “current overheated climate, incendiary untruths can, and in some cases already have, led to serious physical harm, and worse.”
Trump, the Trump Organization and the former president’s two adult sons — Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump — are on trial in Manhattan after New York Attorney General Letitia James’s office filed a lawsuit against them last year alleging decades of fraud. It claims the Trump Organization falsely inflated and deflated the value of its assets to receive lower taxes and better insurance coverage.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing, describing the case as a politically motivated “witch hunt” and both James and the trial judge as biased against him. His repeated attacks against them echo the attacks he has lodged against judges and prosecutors in his other cases.
U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan issued a limited gag order earlier this week against Trump in his federal case over efforts to overturn the 2020 election after the former president made similarly inflammatory remarks about people tied to that case.
Trump faces a combined 91 charges across four criminal indictments and is a party in several other civil cases. Those legal matters are expected to head to trial next year amid the former president’s 2024 White House bid.