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Donald Trump fined $9,000 for violating gag order in hush money case

Judge Juan Merchan ruled on Tuesday that former President Donald Trump must pay $9,000 for nine violations of the gag order against him in his ongoing criminal trial.

According to Merchan, Trump has to pay $1,000 for each of the nine infractions for which he was found guilty.

“Prosecutors accused Trump of violating the gag order 10 times after Merchan imposed an order barring the ex-president from making public statements about potential witnesses, jurors, counsel, and others in the case that could interfere with the proceedings—with prosecutors claiming social media posts Trump made about potential witnesses and jurors in the case went against the order,” Forbes reported.

“While violations of the gag order can be punishable by up to 30 days in prison under New York state law, prosecutors only asked Merchan to fine Trump $1,000 per violation for now—the maximum fine allowed under state law—though they also suggested the judge warn future violations could be met with imprisonment,” the outlet added.

During a hearing on the matter last week, Merchan gave indications that he would likely rule against the former president. He did this by getting tense with Todd Blanche, Trump’s attorney, on several occasions when the latter claimed his client hadn’t broken the order. At one point, Merchan even told Blanche he was “losing all credibility with the court.”

Although Trump has previously complained about the gag order and said it infringes on his right to free speech, his spokesperson, Steven Cheung, has not yet responded to a request for comment.

Whether Trump will respect the gag order and carry on criticizing potential witnesses in the case—former lawyer Michael Cohen and adult film star Stormy Daniels, whom he previously violated.

“The Gag Order imposed on me, a political candidate running for the highest office in the land, is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL! Nothing like this has ever happened before,” Trump said on Truth Social Wednesday, ahead of Merchan’s ruling.

“The Conflicted Judge’s friends and party members can say whatever they want about me, but I am not allowed to respond.”

Trump is on trial for 34 felony counts of falsifying business records, based on payments he made to Cohen after the lawyer paid Daniels $130,000 before the 2016 election to cover up her alleged affair with Trump.

Trump then reimbursed Cohen through a series of payments made throughout 2017—totaling $420,000, adding in another expense, a bonus, and money to cover taxes—which prosecutors allege were paid through the Trump Organization and falsely labeled as legal payments.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him and his lawyers have maintained that the checks were personal expenses and not business payments.

Merchan imposed the gag order against Trump in March and expanded it in April to include family members of members of the court after the former president attacked the judge’s daughter on social media.

The gag order in the hush money case is the third that’s now been imposed on Trump, following restrictions on his speech in the civil fraud case against him and his company and in the ongoing federal criminal case over Trump trying to overturn the 2020 election.

Appeals courts have repeatedly held up those gag orders, and the order in the civil fraud case resulted in Trump being fined $15,000 for two violations.

Trump’s attorneys argue the gag order is a violation of the former president’s First Amendment rights. Trump is required to attend every day of his criminal trial.

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