Updated May 6, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Trump threatened with jail after violating hush money gag order again

 Former U.S. President Donald Trump appears in court during his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments at Manhattan Criminal Court on May 6, 2024 in New York City.

Former President Trump appears in court during his New York criminal trial on May 6 in New York City. Photo: Steven Hirsch-Pool/Getty Images

A New York judge on Monday threatened to jail former President Trump after his latest violation of the gag order in his hush money criminal case.

Why it matters: Judge Juan Merchan, who is overseeing the historic trial, issued the remarkable jail warning and fined Trump $1,000 for his 10th violation of the order, per the court order.

  • "Going forward, this court will have to consider a jail sanction," Merchan said Monday.
  • "The last thing I want to do is put you in jail," Merchan said. "You are the former president of the United States and possibly the next president as well."

Driving the news: Merchan warned that Trump's "continued willful violations of this court's orders threaten the administration of justice and constitute a direct attack on the rule of law."

  • "I cannot allow that to continue," Merchan said.
  • The fine on Monday was in connection with a phone interview Trump did last month with the far-right outlet, Real America's Voice, in which Trump said that the "jury was picked so fast — 95% Democrats." Trump added that "it's a very unfair situation."
  • The gag order restricts Trump from commenting on witnesses, prosecutors, court staff and jurors involved in the case.

What they're saying: Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung said that Merchan's warning to jail Trump if he violates the gag order is "authoritarian."

  • Cheung called the gag order on Trump "unconstitutional and un-American," per CNN.

State of play: Merchan's ruling comes less than a week after Trump had been fined $9,000 for nine other violations of the gag order.

  • Prosecutors have argued that Trump has repeatedly violated the gag order in the case, including through Trump's social media posts that appear to attack key witnesses in the case.
  • Merchan during the hearing last week warned that he would "impose an incarceratory punishment" if Trump continued to violate the gag order in the case.
  • The judge said Monday that the security and other steps that would be needed to jail Trump "would be disruptive to these proceedings."

Go deeper: Trump's social media posts follow him to courthouse

Editor's note: This story was updated with additional comments from the hearing and from Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung.

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