The judge presiding over Donald Trump’s $250 million civil fraud trial in Manhattan imposed a $5,000 fine on the former president on Friday. This penalty was issued due to his failure to take down a social media post on his campaign website that targeted the judge’s clerk. Furthermore, the judge warned of the possibility of imprisonment if Trump violates the “gag” order in the future.
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron imposed a lenient penalty on the former commander-in-chief. This decision came after he acknowledged the Trump campaign’s assertion that a screenshot of the post, in which Trump criticized Allison Greenfield, the top law clerk of Justice Engoron, remained on Trump’s website unintentionally for a period of 17 days. This happened after a court order had prohibited Trump from making public criticisms of Justice Engoron’s employees.
However, the judge, who has previously determined Trump’s liability for fraud due to his unquestionably false claims aimed at securing favorable terms with banks, made it clear that such explanations will not be tolerated if Trump violates the gag order once more.
“Make no mistake: future violations, whether intentional or unintentional, will subject the violator to far more severe sanctions,” Engoron stated.
The judge also mentioned that potential future repercussions could involve more significant financial penalties, holding Donald Trump in contempt of court, and the possibility of incarceration.
Trump was instructed to make the $5,000 payment within a 10-day timeframe to the New York Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection, which is a public trust responsible for compensating legal clients for financial losses resulting from unethical legal behavior. Judge Engoron’s decision came shortly after an intense questioning of Trump’s legal team by the judge. This inquiry took place just before the trial resumed on Friday morning. The focus was on why the 2024 GOP frontrunner had not removed the social media post, which groundlessly accused Allison Greenfield of being Senator Chuck Schumer’s girlfriend. The post featured a photograph of Greenfield and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer at a campaign.
A spokeswoman for Senator Schumer characterized Trump’s post as nonsensical, ludicrous, and untrue, emphasizing that the senator has no connection to Allison Greenfield. Trump’s attorney, Chris Kise, argued that the social media screenshot was automatically uploaded to Trump’s campaign website and stated that it was an inadvertent oversight that the post remained online until the previous evening.
Later in the day, Kise attempted to minimize the significance of the post by stating that only 3,701 visitors out of a total of 114 million to Trump’s website since the October 3 gag order had seen the page with the screenshot before it was taken down.
However, Engoron remained unswayed by most of Kise’s explanations throughout the hearing. In his ruling, he also issued a caution about the tangible risks associated with Trump spreading false information.
Trump, at the age of 77, is not obligated to be physically present for the civil trial and was absent on Friday. It is anticipated that he will be back on Tuesday to listen to the testimony of his former “fixer” and personal attorney, Cohen, who expressed the opinion to The Post that the judge could have been much more severe in his actions against his former boss.