BREAKING: Trump Held In Contempt For Violating Judge’s Gag Order

In a shocking decision on Tuesday, the judge overseeing the hush money trial of former President Donald Trump held him in contempt for violating a gag order in previous social media posts.

Manhattan Judge Juan Merchan, a frequent foil of the president, fined him $9,000 for violating the terms of an order put in place to prevent him from criticizing court officers, likely witnesses, and potential jurors. The fine is based on nine offenses, or $1,000 per offense, according to CBS News. While Trump was not prevented from tearing into Merchan or District Attorney Alvin Bragg, the order was later expanded to cover Merchan’s daughter, a Democratic operative singled out by Trump. An initial fine of $8,000 was increased after consideration of another offense.


Prosecutors had argued that President Trump should be treated no differently than any other defendant, and that his targeting of potential witnesses, including former attorney and fixer Michael Cohen, was tantamount to witness tampering. “No one is off limits to the defendant. He can attack and seek to intimidate anyone he wants to in service to himself,” said Bragg deputy prosecutor Chris Conroy. The Democrat’s office previously suggested a penalty of $1,000 per offense, which was in line with Judge Merchan’s decision Tuesday.

Todd Blanche, a defense attorney, argued that President Trump was simply responding to political attacks in his posts. Some of the offenses included simply reposting comments by followers, an action that Blanche argued should not be penalized. When the attorney declined to name any specific attacks Trump was responding to, Judge Merchan said coldly, “Mr. Blanche, you’re losing all credibility. I have to tell you that right now. You’re losing all credibility with the court.”

President Trump has previously tangled with gag orders in other cases. In December, he essentially refused to abide by a gag order reimposed by an Obama-appointed judge in his federal J6 case. Trump, who appealed the initial order, was granted wide latitude by an appeals court to continue attacking special counsel Jack Smith for charging him with Civil War-era crimes. Smith has also charged Trump in a federal case related to the storage of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.

“This petition presents a question of exceptional importance,” Trump’s lawyers wrote in a filing obtained by the New York Times. “Whether a district court may gag the core political speech of the leading candidate for president of the United States — disregarding the First Amendment rights of over 100 million American voters — based on speculation about undefined possible future harms.” Judge Tanya Chutkan had previously ruled that Trump’s words do not have to carry a “clear and present danger” in order to be curtailed.

Cohen, the Trump fixer, is on the witness stand Tuesday for a second day of testimony. He has said previously that he was paid $130,000 by Trump to reach a settlement with adult film star Stormy Daniels and quell rumors of an extramarital affair months before the 2016 election. Cohen ultimately served 13 1/2 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to campaign finance charges related to his work on behalf of Trump. Since being released in 2020, he has produced his own podcast titled “Mea Culpa” and released a book in which he disavows his time with Trump.