Judge fines Donald Trump $5,000 over 'blatant violation' of limited gag order in civil fraud trial

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Friday, October 20, 2023
Donald Trump fined $5K for violating limited gag order
A New York judge fined Donald Trump for violating a limited gag order in his civil fraud case.

NEW YORK -- Former President Donald Trump was fined $5,000 on Friday after a disparaging social media post about a key court staffer in his New York civil fraud case was allowed to linger on his campaign website after the judge ordered it deleted.

Judge Arthur Engoron avoided holding Trump in contempt, for now, but reserved the right to do so - and possibly even put him in jail - if he continued to violate a gag order barring parties in the case from personal attacks on court staff.

Engoron said in a written ruling that he is "way beyond the 'warning' stage," but decided on a nominal fine because Trump's lawyers said the website's retention of the post was inadvertent and was a "first time violation."

Earlier, an incensed Engoron said the failure to delete the post from the website was a "blatant violation" of his Oct. 3 order, which required Trump to delete the offending message.

The judge initially said he was considering imprisoning or holding former president Donald Trump in contempt of court.

Engoron imposed a limited gag order on October 3 after Trump made an untrue social media post about the judge's clerk. While Trump immediately removed the post from Truth Social, Trump's campaign website appeared to still include the social media post until Thursday night.

"Despite this clear order, last night I learned that the subject offending post was never removed from (the Trump's campaign website) in fact had been on that website for the past 17 days," Engoron said.

The judge said he was considering holding Trump in contempt of court, fining him, or "possibly imprisoning him."

"Incendiary untruths can, and in some cases already had, lead to serious physical harm," Engoron said.

Trump's lawyer Chris Kise told Engoron that the website including the post was an "inadvertent" mistake and that Trump has tried to comply with the order since it was imposed.

"The Truth Social post was taken down when President Trump represented it to the court," Kise said.

Addressing why the post remained on Trump's campaign website, Kise blamed Trump's "very large (campaign) operation."

"This unfortunately is a part of the process that is built into the campaign structure," Kise said.

(ABC News and the Associated Press contributed to this report.)