Donald Trump hit with $10,000 fine by NY judge for 'dangerous' flouting of gag order

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Donald Trump was fined $10,000 Wednesday after the judge in his New York real estate fraud trial ruled he violated a gag order for the second time.

Trump had told reporters outside the courtroom during a break that the judge, Arthur Engoron, is “a very partisan judge, with a person who’s very partisan sitting along side of him, perhaps even much more partisan than he is.”

In response, Engoron said he believed Trump was referring to his clerk, Allison Greenfield, who sits near the judge. Engoron asked “why should there not be severe sanctions for this blatant, dangerous disobeyal of a clear court order.”

Trump himself took the stand to explain himself under oath. He and Christopher Kise, one of Trump’s lawyers, each said the comment referred to Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, who had been testifying. But Trump voiced his frustration with the clerk.

“I think she’s very biased against us. I think we’ve made that clear,” Trump said.

Engoron said he found Trump's denial that he was talking to the press about the clerk "not credible."

“The idea that the statement would refer to the witness doesn’t make any sense to me,” Engoron said.

Engoron had earlier described the reason for his gag order and the potential for "severe sanctions."

“I am very protective of my staff, as I should be,” Engoron said. “I don’t want anybody killed.”

Former President Donald Trump speaks to the media moments after he was fined $10,000 for what Justice Arthur Engoron says is his second violation of a partial gag order at his civil fraud trial at New York State Supreme Court on October 25, 2023 in New York City. The former president may be forced to sell off his properties after Justice Engoron canceled his business certificates and ruled that he committed fraud for years while building his real estate empire after being sued by Attorney General Letitia James, seeking $250 million in damages. The trial will determine how much he and his companies will be penalized for the fraud. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 776049516 ORIG FILE ID: 1756514959

Judge mulls civil penalties after ruling Trump committed fraud for years

Engoron has already ruled that Trump committed years of fraud in valuing his real estate, and the judge is holding the trial to determine the damages. New York Attorney General Letitia James seeks $250 million. But Trump has vowed to appeal.

Engoron imposed the gag order Oct. 3 after Trump posted a picture on social media of Greenfield with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, suggesting she was his girlfriend, which is false. Engoron fined Trump $5,000 on Friday because the picture remained visible on Trump’s campaign web site for two weeks after the order.

Engoron had threatened potentially jailing Trump for more violations.

“Make no mistake,'' Engoron wrote. "Future violations, whether intentional or unintentional, will subject the violator to far more severe sanctions, which may include, but are not limited to, steeper financial penalties, holding Donald Trump in contempt of court, and possibly imprisoning him."

Former President Donald Trump motions as he returns to the courtroom after a break in his civil business fraud trial at New York Supreme Court, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023, in New York. The judge in Donald Trump's civil fraud trial has fined the former president $10,000. The judge says Trump violated a limited gag order barring personal attacks on court staffers.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Judge fines Donald Trump $10,000 for violating gag order in fraud trial