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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Judge cautions Trump about possible imprisonment for breaching gag order


NEW ⁤YORK⁣ — In an ‌unprecedented move, the presiding judge in the criminal trial of⁢ former⁤ U.S. President Donald Trump, Justice Juan Merchan, ⁣imposed a $1,000 fine on Trump for the tenth time.‌ This was due to Trump’s repeated‍ violation of a gag⁣ order, which‌ has led to him being held in contempt of court. ⁣Merchan warned that further breaches ​could result in jail ⁤time for ‌the former president.

Merchan expressed⁤ his frustration, stating that the ⁣previous nine fines, each amounting to $1,000, had not deterred ⁢Trump‌ from breaching the⁤ order. ⁣This order prohibits Trump ‌from publicly‌ discussing⁣ jurors‍ and ⁣witnesses involved in the first-ever criminal trial of​ a ⁢former U.S. president.

“I have done everything within my power to avoid imposing a jail ⁢sanction. However, if necessary, I will not hesitate to do‌ so,” Merchan declared ⁢before the jury was brought ⁢in.

The trial, which is ‍of​ historical significance, is centered around a hush money ‌payment made to adult film actress⁣ Stormy Daniels during ​the ⁣final stages ‍of the 2016 election.⁤ If ‌Trump were to be ⁢imprisoned, it would be an unprecedented development in⁤ this landmark trial.

Following Merchan’s ruling, the⁤ jury heard⁣ testimony from a ‌former employee of Trump.⁤ This testimony could potentially strengthen the ⁣prosecution’s argument that Trump ⁢falsified business ⁢records to conceal the⁢ hush money payment.

Trump, however, maintains ⁢his innocence, pleading not guilty ⁣and denying any wrongdoing.

While ⁣imposing the fine, Merchan stated that he viewed jail ​time as ​a “last resort” due to the‍ potential⁣ disruption to the trial, ‍the extraordinary security challenges it ⁢would pose, and the complications it could cause‌ for the 2024 presidential election, where Trump, a Republican, aims to reclaim ⁢the White House⁤ from Democratic President‌ Joe Biden.

Merchan, however, emphasized that Trump’s persistent and deliberate violations of the gag⁢ order ​constituted a “direct assault on⁢ the rule of law.”

The tenth $1,000 fine was ⁤imposed on Monday, following an⁤ April⁤ 22 broadcast interview where Trump ⁣stated: “That jury was picked so fast ⁢— 95% Democrats. The area’s mostly all Democrat.”

Merchan ruled⁤ that other statements made by Trump,⁤ which mentioned witnesses ‌Michael Cohen and David Pecker, did not breach the order.

The gag order restricts⁤ Trump ⁢from making statements about jurors, witnesses, and families of the‌ judge and prosecutors if ​intended to interfere with the case. Violations⁤ can result in fines of‌ up to ⁢$1,000 or jail time of up to 30 days.

Last⁣ week, Merchan imposed⁣ a $9,000 fine on Trump for nine social media posts that were deemed ‍to have violated the gag ⁣order.

Trump‌ has frequently voiced his dissatisfaction with the gag order, claiming that it hampers his ability to present his case ‍to voters in his bid to ‍return ‍to the​ White ​House.

“My constitutional right to speak has been taken away,” Trump told reporters outside the courtroom before ‍the start‌ of⁤ the 12th ⁤day of trial.

Examination ⁤of Payment Records

On Monday, ⁣prosecutors presented business records to the jurors, showing payments totaling $420,000⁣ from Trump to ⁤Cohen, his former personal lawyer ‍and fixer.

These payments were recorded as ‍legal fees, but prosecutors argue that they ⁢were actually intended to reimburse Cohen‍ for a $130,000 payment made ‌to Daniels⁣ to silence her about a sexual encounter she claims to⁤ have‌ had with Trump⁤ in 2006. Trump denies ever⁢ having a sexual relationship with Daniels.

Prosecutors ⁢allege that the $420,000 paid by Trump was intended to cover the $130,000 Cohen paid‌ to Daniels, along with $50,000 in other expenses⁤ he had incurred. Trump doubled that total to account for taxes and also included a $60,000 year-end bonus, they claim.

Jeffrey McConney, a former controller in Trump’s organization, testified that he⁣ was not aware of any other instance in which the Trump Organization reimbursed ⁤someone ⁣so generously.

He stated ⁣that he was informed by the company’s top finance official, Allen ⁤Weisselberg, that​ the payments were reimbursements, not legal ⁤fees. He also stated that he never discussed‍ the‍ payments ⁢with Trump.

Prosecutors also presented ledger entries to the jurors, showing that⁣ payments⁢ to Cohen were not listed among ⁢the legal ‌expenses the company paid‌ to outside lawyers.

Most of the jurors appeared ‌to scrutinize‍ the email messages displayed on the screens in⁤ front of their seats as ​McConney testified.

Prosecutors argue that Trump’s payment to Daniels​ corrupted⁢ the 2016 election by withholding the news from voters,⁢ at a⁣ time when his⁣ treatment of women was a key ⁤issue in his campaign against Democratic candidate Hillary ​Clinton.

They ‌claim that the altered business records concealed election-law and ‍tax-law violations‌ that elevate the ‌34 counts Trump faces from misdemeanors to felonies punishable by up to four ‍years ​in prison.

If found guilty, Trump could face up to four years in ⁢prison,‍ although defendants typically face fines and ‍probation.

The key figures in⁢ the case, including Cohen and ⁢Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie⁢ Clifford, have yet to testify.

While the case‌ involves salacious allegations of adultery⁣ and secret payoffs, ⁣it is⁤ generally considered⁣ less significant⁢ than the three other criminal prosecutions Trump faces. It‌ is the only one certain to go to trial before the Nov. 5​ presidential election.

The ‍other‌ cases ‍accuse him of attempting ⁤to overturn his 2020 presidential defeat ‍and mishandling classified documents after leaving​ office. Trump has pleaded not guilty to all three.

Truth Media Network
Truth Media Network
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  1. Agree! It’s important for all individuals, regardless of their status, to respect legal orders and consequences.

  2. Agree – Individuals in positions of power must be held accountable for their actions, just like anyone else.


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