NEW YORK (AP) — Former President Donald Trump was fined $5,000 on Friday after his disparaging social media post about a key court staffer in his New York civil fraud trial lingered on his campaign website for weeks 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 the 2024 Republican front-runner in jail — if he again violates a limited gag order barring case participants from personal attacks on court staff.
Engoron said in a written ruling that he is “way beyond the ‘warning’ stage,” but that he was only fining Trump a nominal amount because this was a “first time violation” and Trump’s lawyers said the website’s retention of the post had been inadvertent.
“Make no mistake: future violations, whether intentional or unintentional, will subject the violator to far more severe sanctions, which may include steeper financial penalties, holding Donald Trump in contempt of court, and possibly imprisoning him,” Engoron wrote in a two-page order.
Messages seeking comment on the ruling were left with Trump’s lawyers and a campaign spokesman.
Trump lawyer Christopher Kise earlier blamed the “very large machine” of Trump’s White House campaign for allowing the post to remain on the website after Trump had deleted it from social media, as ordered, calling it an unintentional oversight. It was removed from the website late Thursday after Engoron flagged it to Trump’s lawyers.