- A judge threatened Donald Trump with jail time over a “flagrant violation” of a partial gag order in his $250 million New York fraud trial.
- A lawyer for Trump apologized on his behalf, saying the breach was not intentional.
- “Incendiary lies can lead to serious bodily harm,” said Judge Arthur Engoren.
Former US President Donald Trump attends a Manhattan court hearing in a civil fraud case on October 18, 2023 in New York, US.
Brendan McDermidt | Reuters
A judge on Friday approached Donald Trump with the possibility of stiffer sanctions or prison terms against the former president over his “flagrant violation” of a partial gag order in a $250 million New York fraud investigation.
“Aggravating lies can lead to serious bodily harm,” Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoren warned the court before asking a defense attorney to explain why Trump should not be convicted or jailed.
Trump’s lawyer apologized on his behalf, saying the breach was not intentional.
The judge’s admonition is the first time Trump has been threatened with consequences for violating a court order for his speech. And Trump, who left New York on Wednesday to attend two days of civil trials, was not in court to hear the reprimand.
Engoron imposed a short, stinging order in the case earlier this month after Trump sent a social media post attacking the judge’s law clerk.
At the time, Engoron ordered Truth to remove the social media post and bar Trump and other parties in the case from making public statements about his staff.
But the post remained on Trump’s website donaldjtrump.com for more than two weeks, with screenshots of the page being archived. program.
Leftist website The midas touch It published an article on Thursday about the undeleted post. The Daily Beast reported That article led attorneys on both sides of the trial to notify the post, which was ultimately lifted Thursday night.
“I learned last night that the offending post has not been removed from a website,” Engoron said in court Friday morning, NBC News reported.
“This is a blatant violation of the gag order. I have made it clear that failure to comply will result in severe sanctions,” he said. “It was on the Donald J. Trump campaign site, and it actually has been for the last 17 days. [and] It was removed last night after this court’s email.”
Judge Arthur Engoron is seen in a courtroom before the start of the third day of former US President Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial on October 4, 2023 in New York.
Mary Altaffer | AFP | Good pictures
“Incendiary lies can lead to serious physical harm,” Engoran said. “I will now allow the defendant to explain why this should not end with severe sanctions or I could put him in prison.”
Defense attorney Christopher Kiss told Engoron that as he understood the facts, the violation was “really careless.”
“The fact that the social media post was removed when the court asked,” Kiss said, adding that Trump “never commented on the court staff, but apparently no one on the campaign website picked up on it.”
“It’s unfortunate and I apologize on behalf of my client,” he said.
Engoron said he would take Kiss’s comments “under advisement,” but added that “Trump is still responsible for appearing on the platform.”
“I want to make it clear that even though it’s a big machine, Mr. Trump is responsible for it,” the judge said, according to NBC.
The suit, filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James, alleges Trump, his two-year-old sons, his company and top executives fraudulently inflated the values of their properties to get tax breaks and favorable loan terms.
Trump has denied wrongdoing, although Engoron has already found the defendants responsible for the fraud and ordered the liquidation of their New York business certificates. The trial is aimed at resolving six other claims by James, who seeks $250 million in damages and wants to prevent the defendants from doing business in New York.
Engron’s gag order isn’t the only limit to Trump’s speech on legal matters. A federal judge in Washington in mid-October imposed a partial gag order in special counsel Jack Smith’s criminal case accusing Trump of conspiring to overturn his 2020 loss to President Joe Biden.
The gag order, which followed several posts by Trump attacking various parties in the case, barred him from publicly targeting the special counsel and potential witnesses. Trump’s lawyers appealed the order.