Judge Fines Trump $5K Over 'Blatant Violation'

Judge in civil fraud trial blasts former president over post disparaging a court staffer
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 20, 2023 12:38 PM CDT
Updated Oct 20, 2023 2:55 PM CDT
Judge Warns Trump of 'Blatant Violation,' Threatens Sanctions
Former President Donald Trump returns to the courtroom after a lunch break during his civil fraud trial on Wednesday, at New York Supreme Court in New York.   (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Updated throughout with new details. Donald Trump was fined $5,000 on Friday after a disparaging social media post about a key court staffer in his New York civil fraud case was allowed to linger on his campaign website after the judge ordered it deleted. Judge Arthur Engoron avoided holding Trump in contempt, for now, but reserved the right to do so—and possibly even put him in jail—if he continued to violate a gag order barring parties in the case from personal attacks on court staff, per the AP. Engoron said in a written ruling that he is "way beyond the 'warning' stage," but decided on a nominal fine because Trump's lawyers said the website's retention of the post was inadvertent and was a "first time violation."

Earlier, an incensed Engoron said the failure to delete the post from the website was a "blatant violation" of his Oct. 3 order, which required Trump to delete the offending message. Trump lawyer Christopher 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. Trump, the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, wasn't in court Friday. He'd returned to the trial Tuesday and Wednesday after attending the first three days in early October, but skipped the rest of the week.

Engoron had issued a limited gag order on Oct. 3 barring all participants in the case not to smear court personnel after Trump publicly maligned his principal law clerk, Allison Greenfield, in what the judge deemed a "disparaging, untrue and personally identifying" Truth Social post. The judge ordered Trump to delete the post and warned of "serious sanctions" for violations. Before Trump deleted the post from his Truth Social platform, as ordered, his campaign copied the message into an email blast. That email, with the subject line "ICYMI," was automatically archived on Trump's website, Kise said. (Trump is under a limited gag order in another case.)

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