Judge Merchan Holds Trump In Contempt For ‘Violating Gag Order’

Former U.S. President Donald Trump appears in court during his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments at Manhattan Criminal Court on April 30, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Curtis Means-Pool/Getty Images)

OAN’s Brooke Mallory
12:06 PM – Tuesday, April 30, 2024

In addition to holding the former president of the United States in contempt of court on Tuesday for “violating a gag order” that restricts his ability to speak about those connected to his case, the judge supervising Trump’s criminal prosecution in New York also threatened to put him in jail should he break the order once again.


According to Judge Juan Merchan, Trump purportedly broke the order nine times in the last few weeks via social media posts on his Truth Social platform, some of which were directed at Stormy Daniels and Michael Cohen, two of the case’s major witnesses.

Trump was fined $9,000 by Merchan, or $1,000 for every infraction, and was directed to remove the posts. From the bench, the judge delivered the blunt decision and issued a written order.

He claimed that the former president “violated the order by making social media posts about known witnesses pertaining to their participation in this criminal proceeding and by making public statements about jurors in this criminal proceeding.”

Since $1,000 is the maximum amount permitted by New York law for each infraction, Merchan claimed that this “unfortunately will not achieve the desired result in those instances where the [defendant] can easily afford such a fine.” He also stated that although he does not have the authority to decide whether a greater fine would be appropriate under those circumstances, the court “must therefore consider whether, in some instances, jail may be a necessary punishment.”

The judge went on to tell the 2024 GOP front-runner that he is: “Hereby warned that the Court will not tolerate continued willful violations of its lawful orders and that if necessary and appropriate under the circumstances, it will impose an incarceratory punishment.”

Prior to the start of the trial, in March, Merchan imposed the initial gag order. Trump was prohibited from making comments about probable witnesses, prospective juries, court personnel, prosecution attorneys, and other parties involved in the case.

After Trump highlighted how the judge’s daughter openly supports and works for Democrat candidates, in addition to contributing to progressive causes, the court then extended that injunction to include members of his own family.

Trump argued that because the judge’s daughter, Loren Merchan, is a critic of him who has shared pro-Biden and Kamala Harris social media posts in the past, with one photograph depicting her holding a glass of wine while sporting a Kamala Harris t-shirt, it is seemingly clear that the judge, her father, would be biased too, Trump maintains.

“It’s true that Loren Merchan has served as president of Authentic Campaigns, a firm that does digital campaign work like online fundraising, mobile messaging and web design. They work with Democratic political candidates, including some of Trump’s most outspoken opponents…The firm has scrubbed references to her on its site, so it’s not entirely clear if she is still in this role at the company,” CNN reported.

In terms of the gag order, Trump is still free to criticize Merchan and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, according to CBS News.

Bragg’s office prosecutors had submitted a motion asking the judge to find Trump in contempt for his ten posts that disparaged Cohen, Daniels, and others. Merchan concluded that, with the exception of one post, Trump had “broken the rules.”

“No one is off limits to the defendant. He can attack and seek to intimidate anyone he wants to in service to himself,” prosecutor Chris Conroy said.

He requested that Merchan impose a $1,000 fine for every social media post as well as an order to force Trump to take them down.

Meanwhile, Trump’s lawyer, Todd Blanche, has consistently contended that his client was reacting to political criticism in his posts and did not think he was breaking the order by resharing or paraphrasing other people.

“Mr. Blanche, you’re losing all credibility. I have to tell you that right now. You’re losing all credibility with the court,” Merchan said.

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