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US: Trump fined $10,000 for violating court gag order

October 25, 2023

The former president was fined after taking the witness stand in his New York fraud trial. Speaking with reporters afterwards, he attacked his former lawyer Michael Cohen as a liar.

Former US President Donald Trump
Former US President Donald Trump has been fined $10,000Image: ALEX KENT/AFP/Getty Images

Former US President Donald Trump was fined $10,000 (€9,500) for violating a gag order during a court appearance in a New York fraud trial Wednesday. 

Trump allegedly told one of Judge Arthur Engoron clerk's during a trial break: "This judge is a very partisan judge, with a person who's very partisan sitting beside him, perhaps even much more partisan than he is."

Engoron called Trump's statement a "blatant" violation of his gag order.

The gag order, which bars Trump from insulting court staff, was handed down on October 3 by Engoron, who is overseeing Trump's civil fraud trial.

It is the second time Trump has violated the gag order. Just last week, Trump was fined $5,000 for violating the order for the first time after leaving a social media post online maligning the judge's principal law clerk. 

Trump 'fixer' Cohen testifies 

After his court appearance, Trump addressed reporters and disparaged his former attorney and confidant, Michael Cohen, calling him a proven liar.

Cohen has testified that he was given an incentive to cook up numbers that would bolster his former boss' claims, saying he and other associates made sure the figures came out to, "whatever number Mr. Trump told us."

Cohen served three years in jail after pleading guilty to tax fraud, campaign finance violations and perjury.

Among other things, Cohen was convicted of trying to cover up hush money payments Trump made to former adult film star Stephanie Clifford, more recognizable by her screen name, Stormy Daniels. Trump and Daniels had an affair, which he sought to hide during his 2016 candidacy before being elected president.

Trump's lawyers have attacked Cohen's credibility and grilled the former fixer, who took the stand for the second day in a trial that could drive the real estate mogul out of business in New York.

What is the civil case about?

Judge Engoron has already found Trump and his business fraudulently inflated and deflated the value of properties depending on whether he was dealing with investors or tax authorities.

Trump, far and away the frontrunner for the Republican nomination for the 2024 presidential election, has denied any wrongdoing.

The New York case, one of several legal battles Trump is entangled in, regards damages sought by New York Attorney General Letitia James.

The non-jury trial will be decided by Engoron and could see the former businessman fined $250 million, bar he and his sons Eric and Don Jr from doing business in New York and impose a five-year ban on Trump and the Trump Organization from dealing in commercial real estate.

js, sdi/rc (Reuters, AP)