Former President Donald Trump was fined $5,000 Friday after his derogatory social media post about a key court member during his civil fraud trial in New York remained on his site Campaign web for weeks after judge ordered it removed.
Judge Arthur Engoron avoided holding Trump in contempt for now, but reserved the right to do so — and perhaps even jail the 2024 Republican front-runner — if he violates a silence order again limited banning participants in the case from personally attacking court personnel.
Engoron said in a written ruling that he was “well past the ‘warning’ stage” but was only fining Trump nominally because it was a “first violation” and Trump’s lawyers said the website’s upholding of the message had been unintentional.
“Make no mistake: future violations, whether intentional or not, will subject the violator to far more severe penalties, which may include harsher financial penalties, holding Donald Trump in contempt of court, and possibly jail “, wrote Engoron in a double press release. order of pages.
Messages seeking comment on the decision were left with Trump’s lawyers and a campaign spokesperson.
Trump’s lawyer, Christopher Kise, previously blamed the “very large machine” of Trump’s White House campaign for allowing the post to remain on the website after Trump removed it from social media, as ordered, calling it an unintentional oversight. It was removed from the website Thursday evening after Engoron reported it to Trump’s lawyers.
Trump was not in court Friday. He attended the trial on Tuesday and Wednesday after attending the first three days in early October. In court this week, he aimed his feud at Engoron and New York Attorney General Letitia James, whose fraud case is being decided at the civil trial. Neither are covered by Engoron’s order of silence.
Engoron, however, said the blame ultimately lies with Trump — even if it was someone in his campaign who failed to remove the offending post. He gave Trump 10 days to pay the fine.
“I want to be clear that Donald Trump is still in charge of the big machine, even though it is a big machine,” Engoron said after discussing the issue with Trump’s lawyers before testimony resumed Friday morning .
Engoron issued a limited order of silence on October 3 prohibiting all participants in the case from defaming his staff after Trump slandered senior legal officer Allison Greenfield in a post on Trump’s Truth Social platform. The judge ordered Trump to remove the post, which made a baseless insinuation about the clerk’s personal life, and warned of “severe penalties” for violations.
“In today’s overheated climate, inflammatory untruths can, and in some cases have already led, to serious physical injury or worse,” Engoron wrote Friday.
Before Trump deleted Truth Social’s post, as ordered, his campaign copied the post into an email. That email, with the subject line “ICYMI,” was automatically archived on Trump’s website, Kise said.
The email was sent to about 25,800 recipients on the campaign’s media list and opened by about 6,700 of them, Kise told Engoron after getting the stats at morning break. In total, only 3,700 people viewed the message posted on the Trump campaign website, the lawyer said.
“What happened seems really unintentional,” Kise said. The lawyer pleaded ignorance of the technological complexities involved in amplifying Trump’s social media posts and public statements, calling archiving “an unfortunate part of the campaign process.”
New York law allows judges to impose fines or jail time for contempt. Last year, Engoron held Trump in contempt and fined him $110,000 for being late in responding to a subpoena in the investigation that led to the trial.
James’ lawsuit accuses Trump and his company of misleading banks and insurers by providing them with wildly exaggerated claims about Trump’s net worth and asset values. Engoron has already ruled that Trump and his company committed fraud, but the lawsuit focuses on remaining allegations of conspiracy, insurance fraud and falsifying business records.
Trump denies any wrongdoing, arguing that a disclaimer on his financial statements absolves him of any culpability and that some of his assets are worth far more than is listed in the documents. He called the trial a “sham,” a “scam” and “a continuation of the greatest witch hunt of all time.”
The contempt discussion brought unexpected drama to a sleepy Friday ahead of what promises to be a busy week at the Manhattan trial. Former Trump lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, now the state’s key witness, said he will likely be on the witness stand Tuesday after postponing this week due to a health issue.
Trump and his two eldest sons, Eric and Donald Trump Jr., are expected to testify in a few weeks. His daughter Ivanka Trump is fighting a subpoena for her testimony. Engoron has scheduled a hearing on that dispute for next week.
Ivanka Trump was initially charged, but an appeals court removed her from the case in June after finding the claims against her were outside the statute of limitations. Her lawyer argued in court papers Thursday that state attorneys failed to properly serve her subpoena and that she should not be forced to testify because she is not a party to the case and lives outside the jurisdiction of the New York court.
James’ office never questioned Ivanka Trump in a deposition and is now trying “to force her back into this case,” her lawyer, Bennet Moskowitz, wrote.