Trump in contempt of court in New York trial for violating gag order | Donald Trump News

The judge in Donald Trump's New York hush money trial has held the former US president in contempt of court for repeatedly violating a gag order.

The order barred Trump from speaking publicly and posting on social media about people involved in the investigation.

Trump violated the order nine times, Judge Juan Mercon said Tuesday. He fined Trump $1,000 per violation: With nine reports identified as violating the order, the fines totaled $9,000.

Prosecutors have detailed 14 potential violations in court, and Merchan could make further determinations at a hearing on Thursday.

A judge ordered Trump to remove seven “incriminating posts” from his Truth social account and two from the campaign website by Tuesday afternoon.

He warned that Trump “hereby will not tolerate the court's willful violation of its statutory orders and will, if necessary and under appropriate circumstances, impose a prison sentence.”

Trump, however, took to Truth Social during the day's proceedings to complain about the investigation — and denounced some of its key players.

“This is a total witch hunt,” he wrote, calling out the judge in particular. “The businessman is fraudulent, crooked and above all, without question, contradictory.”

A historical inquiry

The decision to fine Trump came as the criminal trial entered its third week. The former president faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records related to payments he allegedly made to adult film star Stormy Daniels, who claims he and Trump had a sexual relationship.

Several of the gag order violations relate to Daniels and Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen. Both are expected to testify at the trial.

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Trump is banned from attacking not only witnesses, but also judges, court employees and their relatives.

The charges against Trump relate to $130,000 he allegedly paid back to Cohen after the attorney paid Daniels for his silence.

Trump has denied having any sexual relationship with Daniels. His lawyers argued that he was acting within the law to avoid family embarrassment.

To sustain criminal charges, however, prosecutors must convince a jury that Trump falsified records in service of another crime. They argued the crime included illegal attempts to influence the 2016 election, which ultimately won Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Trump is currently the presumptive Republican nominee for the 2024 presidential election. The New York investigation is the result of one of the four criminal charges Trump currently faces. The trial of the other three is yet to proceed.

Whatever the outcome, the proceedings are historic: Trump is the first sitting or former US president to face criminal prosecution.

New witnesses take the stand

Tuesday marked the start of the second week of witness testimony after days of testimony from former magazine publisher David Becker last week.

Becker previously told the National Enquirer that he made a deal with Trump to be the “eyes and ears” of the 2016 presidential campaign. He also testified that he coordinated with Cohen to prevent negative stories about Trump before the election.

Testimony continued Tuesday with the return of banker Gary Farrow, who helped set up the accounts through which Hush money was allegedly transferred.

He told the prosecutor that he understood the accounts for the real estate transaction.

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Farrow pointed out that he would not have set up the accounts if he had known they were paying for political purposes or an adult film actor: “We would consider something like this a reputational risk.”

Then, three new witnesses took the stand. One is Robert Browning, director of archives at CSPAN, a nonprofit television network that provides uncut footage of government proceedings and other public events.

He was called the “Record Keeper” to check the authenticity of the sources. The prosecution played CSPAN footage of Trump denying the sexual misconduct allegations and calling Cohen a good friend.

Another witness, Philip Thompson, was also called to authenticate records: this time, court transcripts of Trump's civil defamation lawsuits brought by author E. Jean Carroll. She accused Trump of attacking her reputation after she came forward to describe her alleged sexual assault.

Attorney Daniel testified

The third testimony, however, came from someone more closely tied to the hush money case.

Keith Davidson is said to have paid Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal while he was a lawyer. Like Daniels, McDougal has claimed she and Trump had an affair — something the former president denies.

Prosecutors asked Davidson to review text messages he exchanged with the National Enquirer's publishers, which were shown on screen.

In a speech, Davidson offered to sell McDougal's story to the Enquirer. A teacher there responded, “I'll get more for that than anyone else. Do you know why?” he said.

Davidson also described being asked to contact Cohen, Trump's lawyer, directly during negotiations with the publisher. “I thought it was weird, of course,” Davidson told the court.

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He acknowledged that one possible explanation for the transactions was that “there was a connection between David Becker and Donald Trump and AMI would not run any story related to Karen because it would hurt Donald Trump.”

Davidson described the negotiations for the Enquirer to buy the rights to Daniels' story — and how closely Cohen was involved in the process.

“Essentially, Michael Cohen stepped into the shoes of AMI,” Davidson said, referring to the acronym for American Media Inc., the Enquirer's parent company at the time.

The attorney, however, expressed distaste for working with Cohen, describing him as a difficult person.

“Every time I talk to Michael Cohen, he leans into his close relationship with Donald Trump,” Davidson said. “That was part of his identity. He told me at every opportunity that he was working for Donald Trump.

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