Trump Fined $5,000 for Violating Gag Order, Judge Warns of ‘Imprisonment’

President Trump had deleted a Truth Social post about the judge’s clerk, but it was still up on a campaign website
Trump Fined $5,000 for Violating Gag Order, Judge Warns of ‘Imprisonment’
Justice Arthur Engoron in the courtroom before the start of the third day of the civil fraud trial of former President Donald Trump, in New York on Oct. 4, 2023. (Mary Altaffer/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)
Catherine Yang

New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron had issued a gag order on both parties in a case New York Attorney General Letitia James brought against former President Donald Trump, prohibiting any statements that attack his court staff. On Oct. 20, he admonished the Trump legal team for what he called a “blatant violation” of the gag order.

The same day, the judge issued an order fining President Trump $5,000.

“Donald Trump has received ample warning from this Court as to the possible repercussions of violating the gag order. He specifically acknowledged that he understood and would abide by it. Accordingly, issuing yet another warning is no longer appropriate; this Court is way beyond the ‘warning’ stage,” he wrote.

Justice Engoron had issued the gag order on Oct. 3, the second day of the trial, after President Trump made a post about the judge’s clerk. Within hours, the post was deleted. But on Friday morning, the judge said in court that he found out the post had still been up on President Trump’s campaign website for 17 days.

“Despite this order, last night I learned the offending post was never removed from a website. This is a blatant violation of the gag order. I made it clear [that] failure to comply will result in serious sanctions,” he said, according to media reports.

The judge said he had emailed the attorneys Thursday night, and it was deleted after that.

“I will now allow the defendant to explain why this should not end up with serious sanctions or I could possibly imprison him,” the judge said.

Trump attorney Christopher Kise apologized in court and said it had been oversight, not an intentional violation of the order. The post had been copied onto an “in case you missed it” page of the website, and was not deleted when the Truth Social post was.

“Truth Social was taken down and Trump never made any more comments about court staff,” Mr. Kise said according to reports.

“It appears no one also took down the ICYMI link that’s in the campaign website in the back pages,” he added. “Truly this appears to be inadvertent. I certainly apologize on behalf of my clients.”

“There was no intention to evade, or circumvent, or ignore the order,” he said.

Mr. Kise explained that the campaign takes all of President Trump’s Truth Social posts and sends them out, in the process archiving them on the website.

In response to Mr. Kise’s explanation, the judge said, “I will take this under advisement.”

“I want to make clear that Donald Trump is still responsible for the large machine, even if it is a large machine,” he added, also suggesting the former president’s posts could lead to ”serious physical harm and worse.”

In the judge’s order, he specified that actions taken by President Trump’s employees would not shield him from liability.

“Make no mistake: future violations, whether intentional or unintentional, will subject the violator to far more severe sanctions, which may include, but are not limited to, steeper financial penalties, holding Donald Trump in contempt of court, and possibly imprisoning him pursuant to New York Judiciary Law [Section] 753.”


The trial that began Oct. 2 will deal with the fate of President Trump’s real estate empire.

Ms. James sued him last September, claiming he defrauded the state and caused insurers and lenders to take undue risks because he had artificially inflated his net worth on financial statements.

She is asking for $250 million in damages and to prevent President Trump and other Trump Organization executives, his two adult sons, from holding executive business posts in the state of New York.

In issuing a pretrial summary judgment, Justice Engoron ordered the disgorgement of the Trump Organization and its related LLCs, giving both parties just days to nominate an independent receiver to handle the dissolution of the entities.

An appeals court put a pause on that order to allow the trial to play out first, after Trump’s attorneys argued this order would bring a hasty end to the jobs of hundreds of Trump Organization employees.

Several witnesses have already testified about the financial statements.

Outside accountants testified that they relied on figures prepared by Trump Organization executives to put together the statements, and did not do independent analyses or audits.

A former lender testified that Deutsche Bank had done additional analyses of the Trump Organization properties’ values, and the financial statements had only been one factor.

An appraiser testified that a bank had hired him to do an appraisal of 40 Wall Street, he had not been contracted by the Trump Organization to do so, and an appraisal was not the same as a valuation.

Second Gag Order

A second gag order was also imposed on President Trump, limiting his speech as he campaigns to run for the presidency again in 2024.

In a federal criminal case in Washington, D.C., Judge Tanya Chutkan has prohibited both the prosecution and defense from targeting the legal teams and their staff, court staff, and any potential witnesses.

The order came after special counsel Jack Smith argued that President Trump’s platform may allow him to intimidate witnesses from testifying and sway potential jurors in his favor.

While the judge rejected the special counsel’s proposed order to limit “inflammatory” statements, she issued similar orders to Justice Engoron in prohibiting all parties from making statements that “target” individuals related to the case.

Given that several of those parties routinely attack President Trump online or in the media, this would prevent him from countering those statements during his political campaign.

The judge had not specified penalties for violating the gag order in the court filing, but said during a hearing she would consider sanctions.