Trump Might Face Additional Sanctions After Key Witness Testimony in Trial

The prosecution in Donald Trump’s hush money trial last Thursday asked the judge to impose further sanctions on Trump for allegedly violating the gag order preventing him from making public comments about those involved in the trial.

Judge Juan Merchan held Trump in contempt of court last Tuesday for violating the gag order nine times and fined him the maximum penalty of $1,000 for each. The judge warned Trump at the time that further violations could result in jail time.

During a hearing last Thursday, attorneys from the district attorney’s office accused Trump of violating the gag order on four other occasions in recent weeks and asked the judge to levy a $1,000 fine for each.

Two of the four violations involved comments Trump made about the key witness in the trial, former Trump attorney Michael Cohen. A third comment was about former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker who was the first witness called by the prosecution. The fourth involved comments Trump made about the jury.

Prosecutor Christopher Conroy reminded the court that the gag order was imposed because of Trump’s “persistent and escalating rhetoric” targeting those involved in the case. Conroy noted that the judge already found that Trump violated the order nine times and claimed that Trump had “done it again” in those four other instances.

Conroy accused Trump of being “deliberate” and “calculated” in violating the gag order but said the prosecution was not seeking jail time because it preferred to “minimize disruptions” to the trial.

Defense attorney Todd Blanche argued that the judge’s order was limiting Trump’s ability to respond to the political attacks against him, citing as an example President Biden’s joke about Stormy Daniels during the recent White House Correspondents Dinner. He said Trump would not be allowed under the gag order to make a similar joke.

Blanche also noted the media coverage of the case and suggested that everyone except Donald Trump has been permitted to “say whatever they want.”

However, the judge appeared to be unconvinced by Blanche’s arguments, noting that the gag order does not prevent Trump from responding to President Biden as long as it did not mention any witnesses. Merchan also said he had no control over what the media might report about the trial.

The judge did not issue a ruling on the prosecution’s request for further sanctions.