Judge Juan Merchan Holds Donald Trump in Contempt Again for Violating Gag Order

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Jane Rosenberg/Pool Photo via AP

New York County Judge Juan Merchan ruled Monday for a second time former President Donald Trump violated his gag order during the trial, holding him in criminal contempt and threatening him with jail time for any further infractions.

Merchan fined Trump $1,000 for a single violation. Merchan previously fined Trump for nine violations. Trump’s 10th contempt offense occurred before the last order and not afterward. Trump did not push the boundaries after the first gag order ruling.

“This court will have to consider a jail sanction,” Merchan told the court. “At the end of the day, I have a job to do. Part of that job is to protect the dignity of the justice system.”

The violation is a “direct attack on the rule of law. I cannot allow that to continue,” he added, according to court reporters.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg alleged Trump committed four violations, including comments about Michael Cohen, David Pecker, the former publisher of The National Enquirer. Prosecutors alleged speech directed toward witnesses was a violation of Merchan’s gag order.

“It’s a political hoax,” Trump told reporters before entering the courtroom Monday. “It’s election interference … This is a ridiculous situation. Not fair. Not fair, but we will fight.”

The gag order prevents Trump from making public comments about witnesses participating in the trial, counsel other than Bragg, “members of the court’s staff and the District Attorney’s staff, or … the family members of any counsel or staff member, if those statements are made with the intent to materially interfere with … counsel’s or staff’s work” on the case. It also encompasses prospective jurors.

Increasing numbers of Americans see the criminal trial of Trump as irrelevant to his fitness for reelection, a CNN poll recently found, while only 13 percent believe Trump is being treated the same as other “criminal defendants.”

A majority of Americans doubt Trump’s criminal trial will conclude with a fair outcome, the CNN poll found. Only about one-third of American adults believe Trump did anything illegal regarding the case, an AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll found Tuesday.

The case is New York v. TrumpNo. 71543-23, in the New York Supreme Court for New York County.

Wendell Husebo is a political reporter with Breitbart News and a former GOP War Room Analyst. He is the author of Politics of Slave Morality. Follow Wendell on “X” @WendellHusebø or on Truth Social @WendellHusebo.

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