Former President Trump has been fined $10,000 for violating a gag order that prevented him from speaking about those overseeing his civil fraud trial in New York.
In an unexpected twist, Trump was sworn in as a witness to respond to allegations he violated the gag order against him in his fraud case by commenting about a court secretary.
Trump slowly ascended the stand, straightening his blue jacket when sitting down. He took an oath to tell the truth and turned his attention toward the judge.
Judge Arthur Engoron asked whether Trump made the reported comment that he is a “very partisan judge with a person who is very partisan sitting alongside him, perhaps even more partisan than he is.” Trump nodded, responding “yes.”
“To whom were you referring?” Engoron asked.
“You and Cohen,” Trump replied.
“Are you sure that you didn’t mean the person on the other side, my principal law clerk?” Engoron asked.
“Yes I’m sure,” Trump said.
The former president, when prompted, additionally commented that he believes the judge’s clerk is “very biased against us” and explained that he took down the previous Truth Social post that sparked the gag order.
The gag order was originally imposed after Trump’s Truth Social account derided the clerk as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) “girlfriend” and included personally identifying information about her. Engoron ordered Trump to take down the post, and it was removed from Truth Social.
However, the post remained on Trump’s campaign website for an additional 17 days. When Engoron was informed of that, he imposed a $5,000 fine on Trump for violating the order.
Trump said on the stand that he believes “one of the political groups, or PACS” left it up.
“But I didn’t know they were gonna do that,” Trump said.
Through his short testimony, Trump maintained a glum face. When he trailed back to his seat, he looked at the floor.
Once Trump was seated, Engoron issued his order to fine Trump $10,000 “on the liberal side.”
“As the trier of fact, I find that the witness is not credible,” Engoron said.
Trump attorney Chris Kise objected to the order, suggesting the judge “presupposed some ill motive” on Trump’s behalf.
Kise and Trump’s other attorneys also claimed that the closeness of Engoron’s clerk to him has essentially made her a “second judge” in the case. The attorneys previously raised issue with Engoron and his clerk’s whispered sidebars, which sometimes include eye-rolling or sighs of exasperation.
Engoron rejected their objections and their assertions about his clerk’s role in his decision-making.
“I make the final decisions,” Engoron said.