Donald Trump, the ex-president of the United States, has been fined $10,000 for violating a restricted gag order in his civil fraud trial. The injunction forbids him from making any personal comments about court officials.
Trump was fined after being invited to testify regarding his comments about Judge Arthur Engoron being “a person who’s very partisan” and having a person sitting alongside him who may be more partisan than he is.
On October 3, Engoron put a gag order on anyone involved in the trial who might have anything negative to say about his employees. Trump supposedly wrote an insulting social media remark about the chief law clerk sitting beside Engoron on the bench. Trump was fined $5,000 on Friday after ignoring a judge’s order to remove the offensive item from his campaign website, which had been visible for weeks.
Trump and his legal team insisted that Cohen, the witness and not the clerk, was the remark’s target. Three of Trump’s lawyers raised objections to the penalties. Although the Trump team has said they feel that the judge’s law clerk was unfairly prejudiced, they maintain that the comment was directed at Cohen.
Allison Greenfield, the judge’s clerk, is often seated close to the judge and will ask questions of the lawyers on both sides. Lawyers for both parties, as well as Trump, stayed in court for about an hour after lunch. As soon as the court reopened, Trump was brought to the stand to answer questions from Engoron. Trump’s lawyers objected, claiming Greenfield’s actions were inappropriate for a law clerk.
Engoron questioned Trump to determine if his comments were directed at the law clerk. During the query, Trump said maybe the judge felt he was talking about his clerk because he knew she was biased.
Engoron said that while communicating with his law clerks, he ultimately makes all of the decisions. He found Trump’s claim that he was speaking about Cohen, not Greenfield, not credible and that he blatantly violated the gag order.
He was fined ten grand.