Judge finds Trump violated gag order in hush money trial 9 times, fines him $9K

Published 10:22 am Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Donald Trump’s hush money trial resumed Tuesday with Judge Juan M. Merchan first ruling on prosecutors’ prior request to hold the former president in contempt of court over alleged violations of a gag order that bars him from speaking publicly about witnesses and jurors in the case.

Merchan ruled that Trump violated the gag order nine times and fined him $9,000. He will hold another hearing Thursday on four more alleged violations brought forth by prosecutors.

Gary Farro — the prosecution’s third witness and a banker who helped Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen open accounts — returned to the witness stand shortly thereafter to resume his testimony from last week.

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Cohen used one such account to buy the silence of porn performer Stormy Daniels. She alleged a 2006 sexual encounter with Trump, which he denies.

The first week of testimony was the scene-setter for jurors: Manhattan prosecutors portrayed what they say was an illegal scheme to influence the 2016 presidential campaign by burying negative stories.

For his part, the former president and presumptive Republican nominee has been campaigning in his off-hours, but is required to be in court when it is in session, four days a week.

The charges center on $130,000 in payments that Trump’s company made to Cohen. Prosecutors say Trump obscured the true nature of those payments and falsely recorded them as legal expenses.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.

The case is the first-ever criminal trial of a former U.S. president and the first of four prosecutions of Trump to reach a jury.