ABefore imposing this fine, Judge Arthur Engoron called Trump from the defense table to testify about a comment to journalists hours earlier in which the former president referred to “a very partisan person sitting next to” the judge.
On the 3rd, Engoron ordered all participants in the trial not to make any public comments about his team, a restriction imposed after Trump published on social media what the judge understood as defamation of his main employee, who sits by his side at the trial.
Trump and his lawyers insisted that the former president’s comment today was about witness Michael Cohen, a former Trump lawyer, and not the staffer, but Engoron dismissed the arguments as “not credible,” noting that the staffer sat too closer to the judge than Cohen during the testimony.
“The idea that the statement referred to the witness doesn’t make any sense to me,” Engoron said.
Five days earlier, Trump had been fined $5,000 after Engoron discovered that the offensive social media post from early October had remained on Trump’s campaign website for weeks, despite being ordered to do so. to remove it from the Truth Social platform.
Meanwhile, today, the Republican presidential candidate complained in a courtroom hallway that Engoron, a Democrat, is “a very partisan judge, with a very partisan person sitting next to him, perhaps even much more partisan than he is.”
Then, under oath on the witness stand, Trump told the judge that the comment was directed at “you and Cohen”, not hiding his frustration: “I think it’s very biased against us. I think we’ve made that very clear,” he said.
Three of Trump’s lawyers opposed the $10,000 fine and reiterated Trump’s claim that the official is biased.
Shortly after being fined and moments after one of his lawyers finished questioning Cohen, Trump stood up and left the courtroom, followed by his son, Eric.
The episode highlighted the question of whether Trump can comply with court directives aimed at curbing his rhetoric as he campaigns to return to the White House.
Last week, another judge, this time in Washington, who is trying the former president in a 2020 election interference case, imposed a gag order, which prohibits public statements regarding prosecutors, court staff and potential witnesses.
Judge Tanya Chutkan’s order responded to concerns raised by prosecutors, who feared Trump’s comments could inspire his supporters to threaten or harass prosecution witnesses at trial.
Trump however appealed this order, considering it unconstitutional. Chutkan temporarily lifted the order last Friday, considering a defense request for a pause in restrictions while Trump’s appeals are heard.
Taking advantage of the lifting of the restriction, Trump attacked the Justice Department’s special advisor, Jack Smith, in an online post, considering him “crazy”, and said that those who enter into cooperation agreements with prosecutors are “weak and cowardly”. .
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