Monday, May 20

NY v Trump: Judge threatens jail time for ‘possibly the next president’ for future gag order violations

Judge Juan Merchan on Monday said he will consider a jail sentence for former President Trump if he continues to violate the gag order imposed upon him in his unprecedented criminal trial. 

Merchan imposed a gag order on Trump before the trial began, ordering that Trump cannot make or direct others to make public statements about witnesses with regard to their potential participation or about counsel in the case – other than Bragg – or about court staff, DA staff or family members of staff.

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Bragg and prosecutors have alleged more than a dozen violations of the gag order, and have already fined the former president $9,000 for those violations. 

Merchan, on Monday, fined the former president $1,000 for an additional violation, but said it is “clear” that the fine — $1,000 per violation — is not effective.

The filing states that Trump is “hereby put on notice that if appropriate and warranted, future violations of its lawful orders will be punishable by incarceration.” 

Merchan said Monday that going forward, the court will have to consider “a jail sentence.” 

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“The last thing I want to consider is jail,” Merchan said. “You are former president and possibly the next president.” 

Merchan, though, said that he worries about “that step” for Trump, pointing to Secret Service protection. 

“The magnitude of that decision is not lost on me,” Merchan said. “Your continued willful violation of the court’s order…constitutes a direct attack…and will not be allowed to continue…It is not allowed to continue.” 

Trump and his defense attorneys have argued that the former president and presumptive Republican presidential nominee should not be bound by the gag order, saying it violates his First Amendment rights as well as the First Amendment rights of his supporters. 

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