Trump Learns His Punishment From Hateful Judge

OPINION:  This article contains commentary which may reflect the author’s opinion

In his ongoing criminal prosecution, Judge Juan Merchan decided on Tuesday that former President Donald Trump, for nine violations of the gag order against him, must pay $9,000 in fines.

Merchan claims that Trump will be required to pay $1,000 for each of the nine offenses for which he was found guilty.

“Prosecutors accused Trump of violating the gag order 10 times after Merchan imposed an order barring the ex-president from making public statements about potential witnesses, jurors, counsel, and others in the case that could interfere with the proceedings—with prosecutors claiming social media posts Trump made about potential witnesses and jurors in the case went against the order,” Forbes reported.

“While violations of the gag order can be punishable by up to 30 days in prison under New York state law, prosecutors only asked Merchan to fine Trump $1,000 per violation for now—the maximum fine allowed under state law—though they also suggested the judge warn future violations could be met with imprisonment,” the outlet added.

Merchan hinted that he would probably find against the former president during a hearing on the case last week. He achieved this by becoming agitated with Trump’s lawyer, Todd Blanche, on multiple occasions when the latter insisted that his client hadn’t disobeyed the injunction. Merchan even admitted to Blanche that he was “losing all credibility with the court” at one point.

Steven Cheung, the spokesperson for President Trump, has not yet responded to a request for comment, despite the fact that the president has previously complained about the gag order and claimed it violates his right to free expression.

Whether Trump would abide by the gag order and continue disparaging Stormy Daniels, the star of adult films, and her former attorney Michael Cohen—whom he has already broken—as prospective witnesses in the case.

“The Gag Order imposed on me, a political candidate running for the highest office in the land, is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL! Nothing like this has ever happened before,” Trump said on Truth Social Wednesday, ahead of Merchan’s ruling. “The Conflicted Judge’s friends and party members can say whatever they want about me, but I am not allowed to respond.”

34 felony counts of fabricating business records against Trump are the basis of his trial. These accusations stem from payments he made to Cohen, who allegedly paid Daniels $130,000 to conceal her alleged romance with Trump prior to the 2016 election.

Subsequently, Trump paid Cohen back in a series of installments spread out over the course of 2017, amounting to $420,000 when bonus, tax payments, and other expenses were included. Prosecutors claim that these payments were made through the Trump Organization and were misrepresented as legal settlements.

Trump has entered a not guilty plea to the accusations brought against him, and his legal team has argued that the checks were for personal use rather than company purposes.

After Trump insulted the judge’s daughter on social media in April, Merchan extended the gag order to include family members of court employees, which she had placed against the former president in March.

The hush money case has resulted in the third gag order placed on Trump. The other two were related to speech limitations in the civil fraud action against him and his firm and the continuing federal criminal prosecution concerning Trump’s attempted manipulation of the 2020 election.

These gag orders have been upheld by appeals courts time and time again, and Trump was fined $15,000 for two infractions of the order in the civil fraud case.

Trump’s legal team contends that the former president’s First Amendment rights are violated by the gag order. Trump’s criminal trial requires him to be present each day.

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