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Donald Trump fined $5,000 for violating gag order in New York fraud case; judge mentions prison

was fined $5,000 Friday by the judge in his New York civil trial because a social media post disparaging one of his staffers remained visible for weeks.

New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron had ordered Trump on Oct. 3 not to criticize his staff and to delete the post that showed his clerk, Allison Greenfield, with Senate Majority Leader and accused her of being his girlfriend.  But the post remained visible for weeks.

“Make no mistake: future violations, whether intentional or unintentional, will subject the violator to far more severe sanctions, which may include, but are not limited to, steeper financial penalties, holding Donald Trump in contempt of court, and possibly imprisoning him,” Engoron said.

The dispute illustrated how judges could potentially penalize Trump even before verdicts in the various civil and criminal cases pending against him. U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan has also ordered Trump not to criticize prosecutors, court staff or witnesses in his federal trial on charges he conspired to overturn the 2020 election.

Judge Arthur Engoron sits on the bench in the courtroom before the start of a civil business fraud trial against the Trump Organization, Oct. 4, 2023, at Supreme Court in New York. Judge Engoron threatened Friday, Oct. 20, 2023, to hold Donald Trump in contempt, raising the possibility of fining or even jailing the former president because his disparaging social media post about a key court staffer remained visible for weeks on his campaign website after the judge ordered it deleted.

Trump asked Chutkan on Friday to suspend her order while he appeals her decision.

“No Court in American history has imposed a gag order on a criminal defendant who is campaigning for public office − least of all, on the leading candidate for President of the United States,” Trump’s lawyers said in the filing.

Engoron called Truth Social’s retention of the post a “blatant violation” of his limited gag order.

“Incendiary untruths can and have led to serious physical harm,” Engoron said. “I will now allow the defendant to explain why this should not end up with serious sanctions or I could possibly imprison him.”

Former President Donald Trump told reporters he's appealing a gag order set by a judge handling his Washington, D.C. trial.

Trump wasn’t in court Friday, but the post was removed late Thursday.

Before the post was removed, Trump’s campaign sent it out as an email to his supporters. Christopher Kise, one of Trump’s lawyers, said the email was sent to 25,800 recipients and opened by about 6,700. About 3,700 people viewed the post on Trump’s campaign website, Kise said.

“Based on my understanding this was truly inadvertent,” Kise said. “The Truth Social post was taken down when the court asked and Trump never made any more comments about court staff, but it appears no one took it down on the campaign website. It is unfortunate and I apologize on behalf of my client.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Donald Trump fined $5,000 for violating gag order in NY fraud case