Former United States President, Donald Trump, was fined $5,000 on Friday after a disparaging social media post about a key court staffer in his New York civil fraud case which was allowed to linger on his campaign website after the judge ordered it deleted.
Judge Arthur Engoron avoided holding Trump in contempt, for now, but reserved the right to do so — and possibly even put him in jail — if he continued to violate a gag order barring parties in the case from personal attacks on court staff.
According to 12 News quoting from AP, Engoron said in a written ruling that he is “way beyond the ‘warning’ stage,” but decided on a nominal fine because Trump’s lawyers said the website’s retention of the post was inadvertent and was a “first time violation.”
Earlier, an incensed Engoron said the failure to delete the post from the website was a “blatant violation” of his Oct. 3 order, which required Trump to delete the offending message.
Trump lawyer Christopher Kise blamed the “very large machine” of Trump’s presidential campaign for allowing his deleted social media post to remain on his website, calling it an unintentional oversight.
Trump, the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, wasn’t in court Friday. He’d returned to the trial Tuesday and Wednesday after attending the first three days in early October, but skipped the rest of the week.
Trump wasn’t in court on Friday. He’d been at the trial Tuesday and Wednesday after attending the first three days in early October. Outside court this week, he aimed his enmity at Engoron and New York Attorney General Letitia James, whose fraud lawsuit is being decided at the civil trial. Neither is covered by Engoron’s gag order.
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Trump lawyer Christopher Kise blamed the “very large machine” of Trump’s presidential campaign for allowing a version of his deleted social media post to remain on his website, calling it an unintentional oversight. The post was removed from the website late Thursday after Engoron flagged it to Trump’s lawyers.
Engoron, however, said the buck ultimately stops with Trump — even if it was someone on his campaign who failed to remove the offending post.
“I’ll take this under advisement,” Engoron said after Kise explained the mechanics of how Trump’s post was able to remain online. “But I want to be clear that Donald Trump is still responsible for the large machine even if it’s a large machine.”
Engoron issued a limited gag order on Oct. 3 barring all participants in the case not to smear court personnel after Trump publicly maligned the judge’s principal law clerk, Allison Greenfield, in what Engoron deemed a “disparaging, untrue and personally identifying” Truth Social post. The judge ordered Trump to delete the post, which he did, and warned of “serious sanctions” for violations.